US overtakes France as world's biggest wine market

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPeople in the US still drink less wine per head than in France, according to data from 2011

For the first time, the US has overtaken France as the world's biggest national market for wine, according to figures from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

US drinkers consumed 29.1 million hectolitres (2.9 billion litres) of wine in 2013, 0.5% more than in 2012.

Meanwhile, French wine consumption fell 7% from the year before to 2.8 billion litres, according to the OIV.

The amount of wine drunk per head is still higher in France than in the US.

According to figures from 2011, the average French person drinks just over a bottle a week, six times more than the average US consumer.

However, the worldwide capital of per capita wine consumption is the Vatican, according to the Wine Institute, which represents California wine growers. (The Wine Institute also shows that the US has been the leader in overall consumption at least since 2010.)

Changing habits

"In countries such as France, Italy and Spain, people used to drink a lot of wine, but consumption habits are changing," OIV director general Jean-Marie Aurand told the Reuters news agency.

"In the US, it is different and they are starting from a lower level per capita, so they have a tendency to consume more and more, notably quality wine," he added.

Overall, worldwide consumption of wine was down by 1% last year.

China's wine consumption also fell, by 3.8%, a reversal of the trend seen in recent years, leading the OIV to note: "the rapid growth in consumption in recent years appears to have come to a sudden end".

Wine drinking in Spain and Italy also decreased.

More on this story