America’s love affair with wine continues. We’re pulling further ahead of Europe in consumption, but are 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 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. 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.
• In spirits, worldwide vodka consumption was down 5 percent, brandy up 23 percent and rum up 22 percent.
• More than one-third of all the spirits consumed in the world are in the form of a Chinese white liquor 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.
Here are tasting notes on a sampling of America’s favorites.
• 2004 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne (38 percent chardonnay, 33 percent pinot noir, 29 percent pinot meunier): lively, long-lasting bubbles, intense flavors of ripe peaches, golden apples and citrus, spicy finish; $60.
• 2009 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: floral aromas, flavors of black cherries and cassis, full-bodied, smooth, long finish; $38.
• Nonvintage “IL” Moscato, by Mionetto, Veneto, Italy: sprightly bubbles, lightly sweet, with floral aromas and flavors of ripe peaches; $13.
• 2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, Calif.,: light bodied and crisp, with flavors of white grapefruit, limes and cut grass; $10
• 2011 Francis Coppola “Diamond Collection” Pinot Grigio, California: floral aromas, flavors of tart apricots and minerals, crisp and lean; $16.
• 2011 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir, “Vintner’s Reserve,” California: hint of oak, flavors of black cherries and cinnamon, soft and lush; $22.
• 2010 Ghost Pines Merlot, Sonoma and Napa counties: hint of oak, flavors of cassis and black plums, full body, firm tannins; $20.
• 2011 Trivento Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina: aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries and mocha, mellow tannins; $11.
Fred Tasker has retired from The Miami Herald but is still writing about wine for the McClatchy News Service. He can be reached at fredtaskerwinegmail.com.