As if things weren’t bad enough for the French, it seems that they have lost an important first-place position for a product identified with them: wine.
“The United States has dethroned France as the world’s biggest wine market,” Agence France-Presse wire service reported. “The United States has stolen France’s crown as the world’s top wine consumer.”
The news comes from a recent report on global consumption by the International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV).
For the record, the OIV says that in 2013 the world’s consumption of wine was 238.7 million hectoliters or somewhere around 60 billion gallons, but still about 1 percent less than in 2012.
Americans drank 29 million hectoliters in 2013, up just 0.5 percent from 2012. French wine consumption plummeted 7 percent.
The turn of events should not be too surprising. The United States has a much larger population than France. And although for decades we have been seen as the land of Coke, Mountain Dew, and watery beer, we have been slowly drinking more wine.
To be fair, consumption of bottled water has also been soaring, and U.S. wine consumption is riding its symbolic tricycle far behind. But, more and more we love our wine, it seems.
France meanwhile struggles with reports that its younger generation now prefers Coke, Pepsi, and milk to wine or beer.
France is weary enough already, without losing face on wine. Its president has been in recent headlines for having alleged affairs, the economy is in deep malaise, and personal income taxes can be as high as 75 percent.
Wealthy citizens, including actor Gérard Depardieu, are fleeing France in droves with their euros to neighboring countries where the taxman takes a lesser bite.
Meanwhile, Jean-Marie Aurand, the director general of the OIV, says the report shows that “… consumption habits are changing.”
“In the U.S.,” Aurand told the wire service, “it is different … they are starting from a lower level per capita, so they have a tendency to consume more and more, notably quality wine.”
The OIV report says that on a per capita basis, America may now drink the largest total gallons of wine. One bright light for the French: When it comes to individual consumption, France still reigns as the largest consumer. People there drink almost six times as much wine per person as we do.
And there are still the Chinese to consider, but not for a while, apparently. The massive growth of enthusiasm for French and American wines in China — seen as the next big market — seems to have peaked and come to a sudden end, the report says.
More Kudos for Michigan Wine
At the Riverside (Calif.) International Wine Competition where 1,900 wines were judged, several Michigan wines won top honors, garnering the Best Of Class in their categories and Chairman’s Awards:
Shady Lane Cellars: 2012 Dry Gewürztraminer, 2011 Lemberger/Blaufrankisch, 2011 Red blend
Forty-Five North, 2013 Pinot Gris
St. Julian Winery, 2013 Traminette
Braganini Reserve, 2013 Traminette