Wine consumption shifts globally; vineyards venture north

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 - 12:00 am

Wine is going global – and faster than many think. Here’s the world wine outlook for 2014 and beyond.

Most of the world’s Northern Hemisphere grapes are grown between latitudes 30 and 50 – roughly from Spain and Israel in the south to central Germany in the north. But this global swath also includes such unexpected countries as Afghanistan, India, China, even North Korea.

Grape-growing regions are shifting north. Warmer weather due to climate change will expand grape production in England, China, Russia and Scandinavia by mid-century, The New York Times reports. At the same time, some fear increasing heat may hurt established wine regions in Bordeaux, Tuscany and Spain.

England and Wales have doubled their number of wineries to over 400 in the past decade, the Mail Online website says.

China, today the world’s fifth-largest wine producer, is on track to double its grape production in five years to become the world’s largest producer, says Wine-Searcher website.

Wine consumption is shifting east. Increasing affluence and sophistication are boosting wine in countries new to such luxury.

When French Bordeaux producers hiked prices sharply during the 2010 economic downturn, U.S. sippers pulled back, and newly rich Chinese wine fans became the world’s biggest importers of Bordeaux, says CNN Money. At the 2013 Hospices de Beaune auction in France, a Chinese businesswoman made news by paying $180,000 for a 456-liter barrel of fancy Burgundy.

Chinese wine consumption will double by 2016 to 400 million cases a year, making the country the world’s largest consumer, Business Insider website says.

Global producers recognize the shift in consumption. French Champagne giant Moet-Hennessy has launched a new line of sparkling wines – “Chandon Nashik” – to be produced and drunk in India, says the Great Wine News website.

Europe is lagging. In France, more than half of adults drank wine every day in 1980; today it’s only 17 percent, the BBC says.

Italians are turning to beer and colas. Per-capita wine consumption has declined from 29 gallons a year in the 1970s to 11 gallons today, says the Italian wine association Assoenologi.

Spain is on the same track. Already its sippers imbibe twice as much beer as wine.

U.S. wine fans, on the other hand, are holding our own. Consumption grew 2 percent in 2012, maintaining for the time being our status as the world’s top wine-drinking country.

In the future, a global wine shortage looms, says Morgan Stanley Research. Global consumption grew by 1 percent in 2012, while wine production fell by 5 percent to 2.8 billion cases, due to bad weather in Europe and Australia.

And some fear climate change could hurt California’s warmer growing areas as well.

Read more articles by Fred Tasker



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