It’s no secret that, in the world of wine, France has historically had a claim to the top spot. Yet, now the game has shifted slightly, placing the US on top.
For the first time in recorded history, Americans have surpassed the French in wine consumption, becoming the world’s number one wine consuming country by volume for the year 2010. According to a report released on Tuesday by wine industry consulting firm Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, Americans drank a total of 3.96 billion bottles of wine in 2010, more than the 3.85 billion consumed by the French.
In total, we spent $30 billion on wine last year, a four percent increase from 2009. Sixty-one percent of those sales came from California wines alone.
What’s going on here?
It has been said before that certain generations are wine drinkers and others lean more towards spirits. Typically, preferences skip a generation. So, if your parents were wine drinkers you’re more likely to reach for a cocktail.
The millennial generation, which essentially includes those born in the 1980s and 1990s (the exact cut-off dates are debatable), has been recognized for reinvigorating a passion for wine that was lost on the baby boomers. As a general trend, twenty-somethings today have an affinity for wine that their parents never did. What’s more, there are hundreds of thousands of under-21 millennials who will soon reach legal drinking age and further contribute to the explosion of wine sales in the US.
Fingers have long been pointed at this young generation for the increase in wine sales and consumption over the past few years, a trend that was duly noted in the newly-released data. The researchers expressed that the increase in consumption was particularly pronounced amongst people ages 21 to 32.
For a country that really only entered the world’s winemaking stage in the early 1970s, knocking the French out of the top spot is a massive achievement. After all, the French have been making–and drinking–wine for centuries. And, despite our surpassing them in volume, the French still do drink more than us on an individual basis; the average French person drinks 12.2 gallons of wine a year, while the average American only drinks 2.6 gallons.
Where we’re making up the volume is by purchasing an increasing amount of lower-priced wines, likely an effect of the recession from which the US is still recovering.
It will be interesting to see what happens in 2011, but for now Americans can sit comfortably knowing that we’re on top (at least by volume). Here’s to raising another glass to making it another year!