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Which countries drink the most wine? Ask Decanter

World wine consumption has sunk to the lowest level since 2002, suggest new figures, but the story varies between countries.

The US easily tops the list of countries that drink the most wine but global wine consumption dropped by 3% in 2020, according to the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV) in its new annual report. 

World wine consumption weighed in at an estimated 234 million hectolitres (mhl) last year, equivalent to 23.4bn litres.

It’s the smallest amount of wine drunk in any year since 2002, said OIV, although it urged caution and emphasised the number was only an estimate.  

It cited the possible impact of Covid-19 and said the drop was comparable to that seen following the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

‘With the exception of Prosecco, sparkling wine is the category of wines that suffered the most in 2020,’ said the OIV.

‘Bag-in-box wine sales have experienced a sharp increase in sales although overall volumes remain low,’ it added.

Yet it also highlighted differing growth trends between countries. Wine consumption in China fell by around 17% last year, marking the third consecutive year of ‘sharp decline’, OIV said. 

The US, meanwhile, held steady versus 2019. A shift to ecommerce may have helped to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic, it said.

So, which other countries drink the most wine, according to OIV’s preliminary figures for 2020?

Top 10: Countries that drink the most wine

US – 33mhl (flat on 2019)

France – 24.7mhl (flat on 2019)

Italy – 24.5mhl (up 7.5%)

Germany – 19.8mhl (up 0.2%)

UK – 13.3mhl (up 2.2%)

China – 12.4mhl (down 17.4%)

Russia – 10.3mhl (up 3%)

Spain – 9.6mhl (down 6.8%)

Argentina – 9.4mhl (up 6.5%)

Australia – 5.7mhl (down 3.7%)

Source: OIV

Which country drinks the most wine per person?

On a per capita basis, the leaderboard would look quite different. 

A chart shared by the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) on Twitter earlier this year presented the average litres of wine drunk per person (aged over 15 years) in 2018. 

Portugal topped the charts, on 62.1 litres per person on average, closely followed by Luxembourg on 55.5 litres. 

France and Italy came in at 50.2 and 43.7 litres, with the UK back at 22.6 litres and the US coming in at 12.4 litres.

Things have changed a lot in the last few decades, too.

Another chart publicised by AAWE shows how French wine consumption has roughly halved on a per capita basis in the last 50 years, having already been declining before 1970.

That chart is from the recently updated ‘annual database of global wine markets, 1835-2018’, made freely available by the University of Adelaide’s Wine Economics Research Centre.

Italy, too, has seen consumption drop from around 100 litres per person in 1970, show the figures compiled by emeritus professor Kym Anderson and economic history professor Vicente Pinilla (with the assistance of A.J. Holmes), of the University of Adelaide and University of Zaragoza respectively.

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