At Xtrawine, we often place our focus on the amount of wine that a country produces. Italy, for example is one of the top wine producing countries in the world, with only other major industries, such as France’s, managing to compete with it.
However, it’s also very important to pay attention to the consumer side of things. In other words, those in the industry need to know who’s buying what and where those buyers are. This allows them to create marketing strategies that can further enhance their reach into various countries.
It is that side of the coin that we’re going to look at in this article. Here, we’re going to examine which were the largest wine-drinking nations in the world during 2019.
The Top 5…With Different Twists
There are two ways that we can look at global wine consumption:
- The sheer volume that a country consumes.
- The amount of wine consumed per capita within the country.
Interestingly, each approach yields very different results.
Sheer Volume Results
Let’s look at the pure volume side of things first. In this case, the United States stands head and shoulders above other countries in terms of simply pure consumption. In 2018, that amount of consumption stood at 33 million hectolitres and it hasn’t varied much throughout 2019.
Of course, this result shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Of the traditional wine drinking nations, the United States has the highest population by a distance. And while we’re seeing countries with larger populations, such as China and India, starting to enjoy more wine, they’re nowhere near as established as the American industry.
The French follow fairly closely behind in second place, with Italy landing in third. Again, neither result should come as any surprise given that these are the two top wine-producing countries in the world. If either country had the same population size as the United States, we’d bet that they’d easily trump its numbers in pure volume.
In fact, France was only 6 hectolitres behind the USA in 2018. And this is despite the fact that the USA has five times as many people living in the country.
…But now we’re veering into the per capita side of things.
Getting back on track, Germany lands in fourth place for pure consumption. This is a somewhat surprising result, as Germany isn’t one of the first countries most would think of when it comes to wine. However, the country does have a thriving, though smaller, wine industry. And it’s clear that consumers in the country love their wine.
And in fifth position we have…China!
China has managed to topple the United Kingdom in terms of pure volume and we anticipate seeing the country climbing up the rankings in the years to come. With over 1 billion potential customers, the global wine industry has a lot of space to grow into in this emerging market.
In fact, it sounds a little strange to call China an emerging wine market when it’s one of the largest wine-consuming countries in the world. However, that shows just how much untapped potential lies in the country. We wouldn’t be surprised to see China topping the list in terms of pure consumption in the next 10 to 20 years.
Per Capita Results
No, this is where things get really interesting.
The first thing to note here is that the United States drops almost entirely out of the rankings when we look at consumption on a per capita basis. In fact, the country goes from number 1 all the way down to number 15!
So, you would expect either Italy or France to claim the crown here…but they don’t. They stay in the same positions that they’re in when it comes to sheer volume. That’s impressive, of course, given the comparative sizes of both countries. But it’s interesting to note that another country manages to drink more wine per person than either of the two.
That country is Portugal!
And it actually takes the crown in a landslide. The Portuguese drink 62 litres of wine per capita every year, with France only managing 50.
Again, Portugal does have a wine industry of its own. However, we were a little surprised to see it top this particular list.
Rounding out the top 5, we have a couple of other countries that you might not expect to see in Switzerland and Belgium.
Interestingly, China drops all of the way down to number 20 on the list, with 2 litres of wine consumed per capita. This is why we say the country has so much potential. Could you imagine just how much producers could sell if China’s per capita consumption rose to 20 or 30 litres?
Other Areas of Potential Growth
Speaking of potential growth areas, there’s another list that’s worth looking at here – overall consumption of alcohol per capita.
And in this list, we see some surprising results. Belarus apparently comes out on top when it comes to pure alcohol consumption, with Lithuania and Grenada following quite closely behind. France lands at number 5, with Germany hitting the list at number 10.
What this shows us is that there’s potential for the global wine industry to break into a couple more countries. Belarus, in particular, may be a good target for those in the industry. While the country is by no means large, it does have a population of 9 million people. Perhaps we’re seeing here the potential for a new market to open up.
The Final Word
Of course, it’s interesting to see what countries land where on lists like this. However, it’s also vitally important for those in the industry to keep track of consumption trends.
Right now, we’re seeing the United States dominate in pure consumption, with Portugal drinking more per capita. However, we’re also seeing China quickly rise up the rankings, at least in terms of pure consumption.
Perhaps we’ll soon see it rise in the per capita lists too.
Either way, it will be interesting to see where the industry lands in 10 or 20 years time.