Who Drinks The Most Wine?

Wine is in the top five on the interminable list of things that I should know about but don’t.
Working class Germans are just not wine drinkers, and so when I grew up, I learned that there were three kinds of wine: Sour (all German wines fall into this category, my parents would not have touched those with a barge pole), drinkable (only sweet wines would fall into this category, and they would most likely be of Italian origin), and fizzy (consumed only once a year on New Year’s Eve, and it had to be as sweet as lemonade. Champagne would have been relegated to the “sour” category).

I had a little more exposure to wine after I’d moved to the UK in the 90s. OK, it’s not exactly a country of wine connoisseurs either, but the supermarkets, even back then, offered a fairly wide range of wines from all over the world, including German ones. The concept that some German wines could be considered “good”, was a total revelation to me and took some getting used to.

Admittedly, I didn’t learn that much more about wine during my two decades in the UK, but I internalised one golden rule: when bringing a bottle with you to a social gathering (of people you were fond of), you should not spend any less than £6 on a red or £4 on a white, otherwise it was likely to taste nasty.

Now I’m in Spain, and they certainly seem to know their wine. The emphasis being on the word their, because they don’t seem to be familiar with anything else but their homegrown vino. I’d go as far as to venture that the average Spaniard is not even aware that countries like Chile and Australia also make the stuff, and that some of it ain’t half bad.

I do drink more wine now than I did before, it’s pretty much standard issue when having a meal out, but I’d struggle to I exceed 6 glasses a month. Totally pathetic, I know…

Tinto De Verano - A Spanish summer favourite. It's kind of like Sangria, but with less alcohol and far more refreshing

Tinto De Verano – A Spanish summer favourite. It’s kind of like Sangria, but with less alcohol and far more refreshing. I love it!

Now let’s look at the figures*. Owing to sheer population size, China is the world’s largest market for wines. Of the 28.6 billion litres guzzled globally in 2012, China downed 4.2 billion litres, the USA 3 billion litres, Italy and France 2.5 billion litres each, and, to my utmost surprise, Germany pops up in fifth place with 2.1 billion litres.

But what’s most interesting, I’m guessing, is per capita consumption levels. Instead of giving you the per head consumption for every man, woman and child as usual, I’ve selected per capita intake from legal drinking age onwards.

So, Portugal leads, with 51.5 litres per head in 2012, followed by Italy (47.6l), Switzerland (really???) (42.6l), France (38.7l), Austria (37.7l), Argentina (35.3l), Belgium (33l), Greece (31.7l), Netherlands (30.7l) and Germany is in tenth place with 29.9 litres.

There are always a few surprises, and Spain ranking 13th with just 25.8 litres was definitely one of them. I mean, that’s barely a thimbleful ahead of Ireland and the UK, with 25.1 and 23.3 litres, respectively.

The US managed a paltry 13.4 litres, and Chile 16.6 litres, which isn’t very much, considering both are major producers. Canada did marginally better with 18.3 litres, but at least they don’t pride themselves in growing the stuff, as far as I’m aware.

OK, that’s enough stats. I don’t want to be responsible for sending anyone’s head spinning without even having indulged in a lovely glass (or six) of red.

So, what’s it for you? Red or white? Or beer…?

[* For data source, click here]

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31 thoughts on “Who Drinks The Most Wine?

  1. Pingback: Who Drinks The Most Wine? | Lady Of The Cakes | Which Wine Is Sweet

  2. Anna

    Well, you know my answer (btw, the beer post is finally finished and just missing one photo, for which I might venture out today!)! I barely drink any wine in Russia unless it’s 1-at work, and 2-hot mulled wine at winter outdoor fairs (illegal as of this year, I think).

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      1. Anna

        Lol, no, just the alcohol consumption in public parks/on the street etc. Granted, everyone still does it, but they wont be selling the good stuff at the fairs any more.

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      2. ladyofthecakes Post author

        That’s… just crazy. I mean, clutching your mug of mulled wine while out with your friends bracing the freezing cold, that’s virtually a European tradition! Drunk vandals in the streets are a different thing entirely.

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  3. con jamón spain

    Very interesting stats. Surprised about Spain, UK and ireland. We have noted that in bars here – even when eating – it’s lager that seems the most popular drink – or the Tinto Veranos which of course only have a dash of red wine in. 6 glasses a month? That’s our nightly consumption!

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Wine consumption in Spain is declining… an intercambio of mine, who is a wine merchant, has told me a bit about this, and how wine was falling out of favour, being replaced with other drinks instead.
      I”m a lightweight… what can I say 😉

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  4. bevchen

    You mean working class BAVARIANS aren’t wine drinkers 😉 In the Pfalz, everyone drinks wine. Restaurants there have an extremely limited choice of beers… and you get some funny looks if you actually order one!

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  5. pollyheath

    I definitely wasn’t expecting those results. I admit, I do love a really, really sweet bottle of wine for dinner (red or white, doesn’t matter) but my palate is super unrefined.

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  6. Daniela

    I think my family alone is responsible for the Swiss stats, I grew up with the motto: It’s not a meal unless there’s a bottle of wine.

    As for Canada, no, not big wine drinkers but BC is quite famous for our wine country in and around Kelowna. I quite like the reds, similar to the Californian reds.

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      1. Daniela

        Oh yeah, people come here for winery tours and all. The ice wine is probably the most famous export. I just read the other day that BC produces some 18 million bottles a year, but mind you I have no clue how that stacks up to the more famous wine producing areas.

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  7. lingeringvisions by Dawn

    I like different wines for different times. I love a nice Merlot but a cold chardonnay aged in oak with a hint of buttery undertones is another favorite. At this moment I am having a glass of blush. A white wine that has strawberry and other berries infused into it. This one comes from our lovely state of Virginia where I would buy all my wine if I could afford to do so.

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      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        Hey, do keep sending me those links – better to have something twice rather than missing out!
        Hmmmm… I’m thinking mayonnaise vs. ketchup for my next food post.

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  8. gina4star

    I love tinto de verano! Oh, I miss it! I also remember drinking quite a lot of … calimocho (If I’ve remembered the name right) when I was in Spain, but I don’t think I’m as keen on that anymore…

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