We’re still No. 1: U.S. keeps top spot in wine-quaffing count



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.

Highly recommended

•  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.

Read more Wine stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category