In major cities, it seems as if there are as many wine shops as coffee shops. Is wine becoming mainstream?
For some countries, absolutely. The Wine Institute, a trade group, looked at the countries with the most wine consumption per capita to get an idea of who had the most winos. And it may surprise you, but it's not the French.
In the U.S., California produces the most wine, and it's the fourth-largest producer in the world (France, Italy and Spain top the list) – with a retail value of $18.5 billion in 2010, according to the Wine Institute. The wine industry is a major component of the U.S. economy, in that is also promotes tourism at the wineries, which helps small businesses thrive along the West Coast.
Here we count down the top 10 countries that simply can’t live without wine. Read on to find out where the U.S. falls on the list.
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10. Cayman Islands
Nothing says paradise (and protected bank accounts to pay for paradise!) more than the Cayman Islands. Although wine consumption per capita dropped almost 10% from 2006 to 2009, those in the Cayman Islands consumed 33.53 liters of wine per capita.
The Caribbean and the Cayman Islands in particular are huge tourist destinations - a likely cause for the high consumption.
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Coming in at number nine is Slovenia, in Eastern Europe, which had a wine consumption of 37.34 liters per capita in 2009 – down almost 14% from 2006, but still high enough to get into the top 10.
Given Slovenia’s close proximity to Italy, a major wine producer, that easy access may explain the country’s high wine consumption numbers.
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Yes, there is more than just delicious chocolate, banks and gorgeous mountains in Switzerland. In fact, Switzerland was one of the few countries that saw an increase in wine consumption: 38.14 liters per capita in 2009, compared to 36.90 liters in 2006 – an increase of 3.3%.
Wine Institute spokeswoman Gladys Horiuchi says wine's popularity in Europe is no surprise: “Wine consumption is higher in Europe because of centuries of wine drinking, culture and history - and how wine is part of the mealtime experience." She notes, though, that "With the rise of the middle class in Asian countries such as China, growth in consumption has been very impressive in recent years.”
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If you’ve never heard of Andorra, that's because it's a tiny country hidden in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. And its population is small too – about 84,000 people in 2009, from the Wine Institute’s report.
That doesn’t stop this tiny country from enjoying wine: 38.65 liters per capita in 2009 – a sharp drop of more than 19% from 2006.
Given how Spain and France (both some of the word’s largest wine producers) are just a bike ride away, it’s no wonder why wine is so prevalent in Andorra.
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The second-largest producer of wine in the world should have huge wine consumption, and it does: 42.15 liters per capita in 2009, compared to 47.02 in 2006 – even though that’s a decline of over 10%, Italy is still known for its Barolos, Brunellos, and more Super Tuscans than we can list here.
By the way, Italy produced 4.5 billion liters of wine in 2009 with almost $5 billion in revenues, according to a recent Reuters article.
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Although wine drinking has slightly decreased in Portugal over the past few years, a staggering 42.49 liters per capita were consumed in 2009, compared to 43.89 in 2006.
Portugal’s abundant wine regions make it easy for wine to be the common beverage of choice, hence how the country produced 600,000 liters of wine in 2009, according to the Wine Institute.
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The world’s largest wine producer consumed 45.23 liters per capita in 2009, which is a significant drop when you consider the 52.7 liters per capita that French people consumed three years earlier.
Horiuchi mentions a tactic wine-producing countries use to save money that might explain why France's numbers look low: “Many exporters ship their wine in bulk to be bottled abroad to save the costs of shipping the packaging materials," she says. "Once bottled abroad, those products are then transshipped to other destination countries. So the countries that are bottling would also have consumption numbers that are artificially high.”
The Wine Institute says France produced some 4.7 million liters of wine in 2009. That's a lot of Lafite.
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3. Norfolk Island
This small island off the coast of Australia has a low population, but huge wine consumption numbers: 48.68 liters per capita in 2009 – an 11% drop from 2006 but enough to break the top three.
The island’s sprawling views of the Pacific Ocean create the perfect setting for enjoying a glass of wine at sunset.
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A whopping 54.29 liters of wine per capita were consumed in Luxembourg in 2009 – an increase of almost 4% from the 52.26 liters in 2006.
According to Horiuchi, these numbers are not surprising:
“Cities such as Luxembourg serve as a shipping port and many cases are transshipped to other destinations across the continent, so consumption in that country is artificially high.”
And Luxembourg is not a huge wine producer, with only 13,000 liters made in 2009, based on statistics from the Wine Institute.
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1. Vatican City
Topping the list at number one, the Vatican City, the seat of the catholic pope and the Holy See, registered 70.22 liters of wine per capita. That represents an increase of over 18% since 2006, when residents of the city-state consumed 59.42 liters per capita.
“Vatican City has a religious community of residents that pour wine for Mass, so naturally, from a comparatively small base, the per capita consumption will be high given the occupation of those City State residents,” says Horiuchi.
-Scott Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, Fox News, ABC News and CBS. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.
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What About Us?
In case you were wondering how much wine your fellow Americans consume, here’s what the Wine Institute’s report had to say: just 8.96 liters of wine per capita in 2009, compared to 8.57 liters in 2006 – an increase of 4.5% - we’re getting there!
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