There’s a great little article by Janice Jones in today’s Sierra Sun about the rising tide of wine consumption in the U.S.
According to the article, the U.S. has surpassed Italy and is now on the heels of France to claim the title of the world’s largest consumers of wine by volume (at 2.77 gallons per wine drinker per year). Though I think Luxembourg still holds the title in terms of wine consumption per capita.
What is most interesting about the article is the picture it paints of just how vast our wine choices are here in the U.S. – 7,000 different brands (with the $20 and under category making up most of the market).
That’s just… HUGE!
How’s a wine consumer supposed to navigate that kind of territory?…
Janice offers some sound advice on this: keep track of what you’re drinking, so you can build up your ‘Wine IQ’ and form the vocabulary to accurately describe what tastes you like – and don’t like – in your wine. Preferably by using a notebook and writing down your wine experiences. Which is exactly what the Dude’s Wine Tasting Guide eBook. Yeee-haw – vindication!! ;-)
In a way, the Sierra Sun article underscores why I wrote the eBook in the first place – to help people better navigate the crazy (but utterly wonderful) wine by building their own personal wine taste ‘map’. Without that map, and considering the vast array of wine brands available, their multitude of styles, and the increasing ‘pressure’ to somehow get on board the rising wave of wine popularity in the U.S., you may find the journey into the world of wine so daunting that you never even take the first step.
And that would suck – because the journey is really an amazing one.
You may not guess it from the sky-high prices of the top Bordeaux chateaus (some fetching in excess of $1000 USD per bottle – and presumably on allocation to those who can afford their own islands), but the European wine market has been in trouble for a few years.
With labels that many international consumers find confusing, and laws that restrict varietals, winemaking conditions, grape production, and dictate what techniques can be used by winemakers, EU (aka “Old World”) producers have been searching for the magic formula that will allow them to better compete with their “New World” counterparts…
While many producers in the EU have strong ‘brands’ (mostly linked to the most famous of their chateaus), countries like the United States, Australia, Chile, and Canada have stronger marketing, cheaper land, and encourage more innovative vineyard and winemaking practices by having far fewer restrictions on their production. Which is why, in the cheaper wine department, these countries are taking the traditional EU wine countries to the cleaners in the marketplace – and cheaper, everyday wine is, by far, the largest volume of wine produced and sold in the world today. And now EU producers are getting handed their lunch as wine sales of producers in their own countries are falling as the onslaught of New World wine marketing hits their shores.
The stakes are not insignificant – wine has accounted for over 5% of the EU’s agricultural output, employing about 1.5 million people.
So, what can the EU do about it? Presumably, they can argue. EU farm ministers have proposed some progressive steps, but some countries still don’t want to play ball, and are stymieing the process. Which is a shame – those countries may wine the battle, but without some sort of compromise, can the EU hope to wine the wine War?
Updated Dec. 19 – Looks like the answer may be ‘Yes’ – see more details in the news here.
Found a great article on Newsday.com today detailing how the current archaic U.S. state wine shipping laws are negatively impacting the budding wine production business in New Jersey.
And if you think NJ is not state with fine wine potential, then you’ve probably not yet tasted the premium reds from Tomasello Winery, which was one of the top favorite picks of Andrea Immer on her TV show Simply Wine. For the record, Tomasello has stopped shipping wine to consumers within their own state.
This same scenario is playing out with similar negative effects all over the continental U.S. You can do something about it – starting with writing to your state legislators to let them know how you feel.
One of my frequent Blogosphere stops is Wine Life Today, which is a bit like Digg or StumbleUpon, but dedicated to wine blog submissions.
WLT has udergone a bit of a facelift and the site is looking great. If you’re interested in the cream of the crop of wine news, check it out (and if you’re so inclined, you can vote for my latest submitted article on WLT while you’re at it).