Wine around the world: who drinks the most?
Source: The Telegraph
Henry Samuel, Paris John Phillips, Rome
26 April 2016
New statistics from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) have ranked the biggest wine drinkers around the world last year.
Italy’s wine consumption has dropped to an all-time low, meaning the land of Chianti and Prosecco drunk less than beer-swilling Germany for the first time ever last year.
The surprising statistics came ironically as Italy dethroned France to become the world’s largest wine producer in 2015, with one in every five bottles sold abroad coming from the Mediterranean country.
Italians themselves, however, seem to be losing their thirst for “il vino”.
The United States topped the list of the world’s biggest wine-drinking nation in 2015, followed by France and then Germany, according to the new study from the OIV. This is the first time that Italy has been out-drunk by its German counterparts.
Germans drank 20.5 million hectolitres of wine last year, compared to 30.1 million in the US and 27.2 million in France. Britain, meanwhile, jumped 2.4 per cent to 12.9 million, with Germans drinking 1.1 per cent more.
Italy fell just behind Germany, with little more than 20.4 million hectolitres consumed – the equivalent of about 13.6 billion glasses and its lowest level since Italy was unified in 1861, according to the Coldiretti farmers’ trade union.
Like most Europeans, Italians have been gradually drinking less in recent decades, with consumption tumbling by 19 percent since the start of the recession that hit Italy in 2008.
Hard-up Italian families have cut back on wine spending, meaning that average consumption last year was under 37 litres per person, according to Coldiretti, with only 21 percent of Italians drinking wine every day. Nearly half of Italians didn’t drink wine at all last year.
The figures still put Italy way ahead of Germany and the UK in terms of wine consumption per capita – with only France ahead on 42 litres per person.
Despite the overall fall, Italy remains fiercely proud of its wine, with Matteo Renzi, the prime minister, risking a diplomatic spat recently by suggesting his country’s vintages were better than those of France. Politicians from Italy’s Left Ecology and Freedom Party even mooted introducing compulsory lessons about wine for schoolchildren aged six upwards.
Italian producers say that part of the change is because while Italians are drinking less wine, they are opting for higher quality fare, especially bottles registered as superior with “denomination of origin” or “denomination of controlled origin” labels.
Rather than just trying to revive the sluggish domestic market, Italian wine producers increasingly have focused on the lucrative export market. More Italian wine now is drunk outside Italy than in the country, according to the state-run Istat statistics agency.
Made in Italy drinks are becoming increasingly popular abroad, and particularly in the US and Germany, with Chianti and Prosecco among the best-loved names worldwide.
That drive nudged Italy past France as the world’s top wine producer last year, with Spain taking second place on the podium. The news sparked anguish among the French, with the Le Parisien newspaper lamenting: “Some news is hard to swallow.”
French wine-growers have also been powerless to stem the slide in domestic wine consumption, which has plummeted from 160 litres a year per head in 1965 to little more than a quarter that amount last year.
However, the number of tee-totallers dropped for the first time in 20 years in 2015 with a six per cent rise in occasional wine drinkers compared to five years earlier, according to FranceAgriMer.