What do wine statistics tell us about the world of wine? Admittedly, compared to the thrill of discovering a new winery, the perfect food pairing, or going back in time with a taste of a decades-old vintage, stats are a rather dry topic. But they do help us understand the state of wine culture in the world, and where the next wine fortunes will be made.
The innovative wine subscription company Firstleaf has created a compendium of the latest wine statistics, from trustworthy sources like the International Organization of Wines and Vines. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn.
The Massive Scale of the Wine Industry
The latest estimates suggest that nearly 1 million people work in the wine industry, and that there are nearly 100,000 wineries worldwide. All that activity makes wine production a $300 billion industry.
The Global Reach of the Wine Industry
Every continent but one is represented among the top 10 wine producing nations in the world.
Here are the top ten nations in wine production:
- Italy: 1.3 billion gallons
- France: 1.1 billion
- Spain: 886 million
- United States: 642 million
- Argentina: 343 million
- Australia: 317 million
- Chile: 314 million
- South Africa: 256 million
- Germany: 238 million
- China: 219 million
As you can see, Europe has the top 3 slots and 4 of the top ten. North America is represented by the US. Two South American nations, Argentina and Chile make the list, as do Australia and South Africa, representing their continents.
China, with a wine history that dates back nearly 10,000 years, sneaks in at #10 to represent the rapidly growing wine markets of Asia.
We can truly state that wine is a global industry and part of global culture. From Shandong to Sonoma, wine is grown. And from Rotterdam to Rio, it’s being enjoyed.
Top Wine Drinking Nations
There are two ways to look at wine consumption.
There’s total consumption, which is dominated by the most populous countries. The list includes the US, China, and Russia.
Then there’s per capita consumption, which tells a completely different story.
Total wine consumption illuminates the areas for growth. India, the only nation other than China with over 1 billion people, does not appear on this list, not even close, and is considered a growth market for wine. Hard liquor and beer are much more popular among Indian people, and wine has only 2% of the alcohol market. Of course, we’ve seen in China how quickly drinking habits can change.
The big 3 wine-producing countries, the USA, France, and Italy, also drink the most wine in total. But when you look at per capita wine consumption, you’re reminded that Europe is still the true cultural heart of the global wine industry.
Wine in the United States is still considered by some as a “special occasion drink,” or even an upper class affectation. In many European countries, wine consumption is a daily, maybe multiple-times-a-day event, a central part of life for those at all points of the socio-economic scale.
So the per-capita consumption list is dominated by European nations.
- Portugal: 12.8 gallons per person
- France: 10.3
- Italy: 9.6
- Switzerland: 8.5
- Austria: 6.9
- Hungary: 6.8
- Germany: 6.7
- Australia: 6.1
- Belgium: 6.1
- Sweden: 6.0
Australia is the only non-European country on the list, and just barely makes it. The United States, number one in total wine consumption, is just 22nd on the per-capita list — drinking just 2.7 gallons per person, on average.
Wine Sales Statistics
Wine sales should correlate closely with wine consumption. It stands to reason that the countries that drink the most wine also spend the most.
And while the correlation between wine consumption and wine sales is strong, it is not exact. Some countries drink less, but spend more. It’s interesting to consider why this might be.
Consider the comparison between Germany and the UK. By pure volume, the people of Germany drink 57% more wine than the people of the UK. But the UK spends 39.6% more on wine than Germany does. What could account for this discrepancy?
For one thing, there’s the fact that very little wine is grown in the UK, due to the cold, damp climate. The UK does not rank among the top 20 in wine production, making less than much smaller nations — both in population and land area — like Switzerland and Moldova. So, just about all of the wine that’s consumed in the UK is imported. There is definitely some cost increase due to importation.
But consider this: Germany actually imports more wine than the UK does. The two are the top wine importing nations in the world, but Germany stands at #1.
Another explanation could be wine culture. Total wine consumption in Germany is much higher than in the UK, and per capita consumption is also higher. In Germany, drinking wine may be more of a part of daily life. In neighbouring countries like France, Austria, and Switzerland, per capita consumption is even higher than in Germany.
Wine Tourism Statistics
The robust numbers surrounding wine tourism — an estimated 23.6 million tourists in California, 10 million in France, and 4 to 6 million in Italy — were sadly not repeated in 2020, and probably will not be in 2021 either. The only happy thought we can muster is that as the world recovers from the pandemic, there will be new vintages to try, and memorable returns to the wineries we love.
While we wait to be able to tour all of our favorite wineries again, we hope you’ve enjoyed this world tour of wine metrics. They should give you something to discuss over your next bottle at reunions with friends and family.
A version of this article first appeared on Firstleaf.club