There’s a rising tide of wine consumption in the U.S., with Spain and France appearing well placed to ride the flow.
These are the main takeaways from John Gillespie’s talk before a standing-room audience at Vinitaly in New York. Gillespie, a scrupulous tracker of sentiment among wine consumers and members of the trade, presented highlights of survey data that his firm, Wine Opinions, has collected. The full report is available for purchase from Wine Opinions.
The backdrop is positive, since wine consumption last year is forecast to have increased by 2.9 percent (final figures arrive in March). This compares to a 3.2 percent rise the previous year.
So while the growth story remains intact for the 19th consecutive year (yes, 1993 was the last year-over-year decline, an amazing run), the growth was incrementally lower than last year, as well as slightly below the norm of this long run.
The U.S. market is also now the largest by volume and value in the world, and has the most wine drinkers. The market is estimated at 100 million consumers, who drink wine at least once every two months. But it is the so-called “core” consumers – those who drink wine at least once a week – who account for 93 percent of the wine sold in America. The Wine Opinions sample draws heavily on these “core” respondents.
When asked about their imported wine purchases, the consumer respondents said they bought whites and rosés from France, Italy and New Zealand the most. For reds, the leading imports hailed from Italy, France and Spain. When it comes to quality, consumers hold French wines in the highest regard for whites and rosés under $20. Spain is in top place for reds under $20, while Italy is most popular in the $20–$50 a bottle range. Younger consumers drink more imported wine than the national average.
Respondents from the wine trade similarly thought that both France and Spain offered the best quality in the under-$20 category, but flipped back to France for top quality in the $20–$50 price range. Spain was the trade’s most popular recommended wine region or country – including California – for a “house wine” under $20 a bottle.
“Spain has gotten an increased share of mind in the past few years,” Gillespie commented from the podium about the trade surveys. He said consumers often follow the trade opinions by about two years.