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US leapfrogs France to top world wine consumption league

The US became the world's largest wine market last year, overtaking France for the first time as French drinkers continued to eschew their country's long tradition of winemaking, according to preliminary figures from global wine trade body OIV.

France’s Senate may have recently declared wine a part of the country’s national heritage, but consumption fell by nearly 7% last year to around 2.8bn litres, or the equivalent of 3.7bn bottles, the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV) estimated.

By contrast, wine consumption in the US crept up by 1% in 2013 versus 2012, to 2.9bn litres – equivalent to almost 3.9bn bottles – putting the country top of the world wine consumption league for the first time.

Similar claims have previously been made about the US wine market, but this is the first time those claims have been backed up by the OIV, which collates figures from government statistics offices and national trade bodies.

Winemakers in the Old World producer nations of Europe have long been concerned about falling domestic consumption, commonly associated with lifetstyle shifts, such as shorter lunch breaks, as well as a generational shift towards beer and spirits.

The OIV’s director general, Jean-Marie Aurand, told journalists in Paris yesterday (13 May) that, although France, Spain and Italy are all drinking much less wine than several decades ago, consumers are trading up to better quality.

Global consumption of wine dipped by 1% in 2013 to around 23.9bn litres and has essentially flatlined since 2009, OIV figures show.

Its figures included an estimated 4% drop in wine consumption in China last year, to 1.7bn litres, which may reflect widely reported government efforts to curb entertainment spending by officials.

Written by Chris Mercer

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