The US and Italy will overtake France as the world’s leading wine consumers within three years, according to a report commissioned by Vinexpo.

The report, by British firm International Wine & Spirits Record, predicts that by 2008, wine consumption in the US will have reached 27.6m hectolitres, compared with France’s 26.9. From 2003 to 2008, consumption of wine in the US will have grown by 28.6%.

‘Americans are turning their back on the spirits and cocktails once enjoyed by their parents and turning to wine,’ said Jean-Marie Chadronnier, head of Vinexpo.

Of the top five wine-consuming countries in 2003, only France and Argentina are showing a downward trend. By 2008, Italy will also have overtaken France to be ranked second and the UK will have taken the fifth spot from Argentina. Germany will keep its position as the fourth largest wine market.

‘Worldwide consumption continues to grow, even if we are seeing a decline in big wine-drinking countries like France, Spain and Portugal,’ said Chadronnier.

The report also published estimates for wine production. Although the top two wine-producing countries, Italy and France, will remain untouchable, their production will have dropped. Spain, the US and Australia are expected to produce increasingly more wine, putting them third, fourth and fifth respecitvely.

Written by Oliver Styles, and agencies