The world according to wine: Germany and UK top imports in sparkling

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

The US is the world’s most valuable sparkling wine market, and grew by 3.8% in 2019. Pic: Getty/ASIFE
The US is the world’s most valuable sparkling wine market, and grew by 3.8% in 2019. Pic: Getty/ASIFE

Related tags Wine Sparkling wine Wine industry Wine makers IWSR

Germany, the UK and the US import the most wine in the world; while Italy, France and Spain produce the most. Sparkling wine is also topping trends as a favorite among younger drinkers.

February is a key time of year for wine thanks to Valentine’s Day, when wine lovers spend big on rosé and champagne varieties. In the week of Valentine’s Day 2019, sparkling wine sales were up by 27.6% in the US, and French champagne’s sales were up 50.9%.

Sparkling rosé dollar sales were 40.1% higher, and table rosé dollar sales were 17.8% higher in the same period, according to Nielsen data. But though wine sees a spike in popularity around the holidays in the US, it still doesn’t rank as the top global wine market.

Producing and consuming per capita

Italy produces the most wine in the world, at an average of 54.8 million hectoliters per year. France comes in second at 49.1 million, followed by Spain at 44.4 million and the US at 23.9 million, according to House of Townend​, a UK-based wine merchant.

But when considering wine production per capita, Spain takes the lead, followed by Italy, France and Chile. The US falls to twelfth place in per capita production, despite its strong wine culture on the coasts. Europe is the leading continent with 51% of world wine production.

wine infog

Germany imports the most wine, and has topped the category for years. The UK is second, and House of Townend said the UK imports more than 100 million nine-litre cases of wine every year. The US comes third, followed by China and France.

“In Britain, we produce a tiny amount of wine and yet import billions of litres. The USA, itself a huge producer, is also a leading consumer. France is one of the most interesting cases – they grow their own wines in enormous numbers but also import en masse to enjoy tastes of other countries,”​ House of Townend said.

Out-sparkling the competition

Sparkling wine has been a top performing variety within the category, with Germany leading consumption. The variety's global consumption is expected to grow by about 1.2% each year between 2018-2023, according to IWSR drinks market analysis.

IWSR wine

Italy’s affinity for sparkling wine is growing rapidly, and may overtake Germany.

Dan Mettyear, IWSR’s head of wine, said “Sparkling wine growth in Italy is expected to be driven by interest among younger consumers; millennials already drink more wine than their parents.”

“This will be complemented by the growing popularity of Prosecco and niche alternatives such as Franciacorta, which, having consolidated their position at the important aperitivo occasion, now challenge still wine and beer at mealtimes.”

IWSR found that the US is the world’s most valuable sparkling wine market. The variety will likely grow by 3.5% every year in the US between 2018-2023. Americans prefer Champagne, Prosecco and Cava, posting growth at 3.8% in 2019.

Brandy Rand, COO of the Americas at IWSR, said “Sparkling wine has enjoyed year-over-year growth in the US thanks in part to increased excitement for spritz cocktails, and also to more affordable sparkling options like Prosecco.”

IWSR wine 2

“Though sparkling wine marketers have done a very good job reinforcing that these products aren’t only for celebratory or special occasions, Valentine’s Day is when consumers like to splurge on higher-priced sparkling options like Champagne.”

Japan and Australia are identified as the markets to watch for sparkling wine popularity, and for Champagne specifically. IWSR said premiumization is driving the trend in both markets. Australia is broadening its consumption occasions, while Japan is increasing its food pairings with sparkling wine.

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