America's love affair with wine continues. We're pulling further ahead of Europe, but seeing increased competition from China. That's the conclusion of a new study by Vinexpo, the world's most influential wine exhibition, which takes place June 16-22 in Bordeaux France, expecting 48,000 visitors from 140 nations.
Here's what the study found:
- United States sippers reaffirmed our country's role as the world's No. 1 wine consumer, drinking 3.8 billion bottles in 2011, up 4.5 percent from 2010. We will sip an additional two bottles each a year by 2016, the study says.
- We love champagnes and sparkling wines, with consumption up 18 percent between 2007 and 2011.
- We still like white wines, with consumption up 10 percent since 2007 — led by pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and moscato, with chardonnay slumping. White wines make up 40 percent of the wines we drink.
- Sixty percent of the wines Americans drink are red, although we lost to China our position as the world's third-largest red wine consumer after France and Italy. We're predicted to increase red wine consumption by 18 percent by 2016. Our top three reds: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir.
- Malbec, the mellow, hearty red wine from Argentina and elsewhere, is also gaining fast — up 21 percent in the past year, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, industry analysts.
- Meanwhile, European wine drinkers are cutting back — with German wine consumption down 3 percent, Britain down 4 percent, France down 7 percent and Italy down 3 percent and unemployment-wracked Spain down 20 percent between 2007 and 2011.
- As Americans drink more wine, France, ironically, is drinking more Coca-Cola — tripling its consumption in the past 20 years to 149 cans apiece per year.
- In spirits, worldwide vodka consumption was down 5 percent, brandy up 23 percent and rum up 22 percent.
- China is becoming more important, as the world's leading spirits consumer. More than one-third of all the spirits consumed in the world are made up of a Chinese white spirit called Baijiu, distilled from sorghum, wheat or rice. It's described as vaguely citrus-flavored, with high alcohol and a fiery bite. I think I'll stick with wine.