Top 11 Wine Consuming Countries

11 countries that enjoy the juice!


This should have been a simple task. After all, the numbers I’m using come from The Wine Institute’s annual tally of wine consumption, this time for the vintage of 2010. So it’s just a simple list, right?

Well, yes and no. No because it doesn’t seem that this is as definitive of a list as the folks putting it together might have us believe. I’ve found two additional sources of information coming from the World Health Organization and the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin that contradict some of the information contained in The Wine Institute’s list. Rather than try to reconcile what must be some quirks of accounting, I’m just running with what I’ve got.

So here’s a list that is commonly referred to as a countdown of wine consumption among countries, which is patently false since this is actually based on wine purchased rather than consumed, just another reason to take these surveys with a grain of salt. That and the fact that while many of the countries seem to jump around a trend line over the years, others seem to exhibit changes of 25 percent or more from 2007 through 2011. Maybe it’s the Bordeaux Futures programs or all of those magnums of 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape that swung the market.

In any event, join me as we count down the 11 top purchasers of wine in 2010. Why 11? Mainly because I can’t resist including Andorra!

Photo courtesy of sillydog via Flickr/cc

Andorra 33.84 liters pp

No, Andorra was not a character on “Bewitched,” it’s a principality tucked in between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Surprisingly, Andorra is only the sixth smallest nation in Europe, but it’s a powerhouse in tourism.

This tiny land of about 85,000 inhabitants hosts a mind-blowing 10 million tourists a year, which no doubt helps to beef up their wine consumption.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Downes via Flickr/cc


Slovenia 36.40 liters pp

It’s a bit surprising to find Slovenia so low on this list. Sharing borders with Italy and Austria, Slovenia has a long history of wine production and a decidedly advanced lifestyle that would seem to support a bit more vigorous consumption of the juice of the grape.

Slovenia is also a popular tourist destination, though it pales in comparison with Andorra as far as numbers go. The Alps, Prealps and wine producing regions around the city of Maribor all are particularly popular with fellow European travelers.

Photo courtesy of phault via Flickr/cc

Denmark 35.09 liters pp

The Danes are well known as enthusiastic drinkers, and the fact that their wine purchases increased by over 27 percent between 2007 and 2011 certainly supports that impression.

It’s cold in Denmark and winters are long, which helps to keep the wine flowing, but you have to think about how much of Denmark’s wine consumption is altered by what goes on in the Faroe Islands and Greenland, both integral parts of the Kingdom of Denmark. I’ll have to look into that, but I’m betting the folks on the continent have a wee bit higher rate of consumption than those living thousands of kilometers by sea from the world’s best vineyards.

Photo courtesy of Let Ideas Compete via Flickr/cc

Turks & Caicos 37.88 liters pp

I know, I didn’t believe it either, but there they are. The Turks & Caicos, those British islands in the Caribbean. While the landmass of these archipelagos might be just a few square kilometers smaller than that of Andorra, its population is barely more than half at 45,000. Add in several hundred thousand tourists a year and something still doesn’t seem to add up here.

Purchases on the islands have risen almost 25 percent since 2007. Maybe the island just had to restock its bar or something, because on the face of it, there is no reason Turks & Caicos should be making this list. I think it’s time for some investigative journalism!

Photo courtesy of matt.hintsa via Flickr/cc

Switzerland 38.20 liters pp

Yes, tourism and big money are the keys to Switzerland’s success. That and neutrality of course.

The Swiss lie in the center of Europe, surrounded by the best vineyards on earth all virtually within a day’s travel. You would think with so many treasures at their doorstep that they would indulge a bit more. Is it that Swiss sense of composure we’re seeing in these figures? Or their frugality? I wonder how much wine got trucked back in the trunks of Swiss vehicles from, say, Brunello, Beaune and Bordeaux and was missed by this census?

Photo courtesy of Nfrhtp via Flickr/cc

Portugal 41.81 liters pp

Portugal is like the lost European wine country. It’s peppered with vineyards and the wines are fabulous, whether we’re talking about a light little Vinho Verde or something substantial from Oporto.

With so many wines to choose from and a cuisine that draws on the best of land and the county’s extensive coast, it’s not surprising that wine continues to play an important role in the Portuguese lifestyle.

Incidentally, while Italy consumes more wine per person than Portugal, the Portuguese consume more alcohol per person from wine. They consume 6.65 liters of alcohol from wine as opposed to the Italians’ 6.38. With all that Port and Madeira, it’s easy to see why. 

Photo courtesy of ferlomu via Flickr/cc

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  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,003

    Really funny about Andorra. I'm planning the ground portion of our Europe trip and every time I open a book, it falls open to Andorra. Which is about 2 pages worth. Is there a message, something in the zeitgeist? Andorra's numbers could also be swayed by the fact that lots of Spanish and French tourists go there to ski or get away from the cities, and there's apparently lots of shopping. Turks and Caicos gets a lot of honeymooners, so the numbers are probably skewed by complimentary bottles of cheap bubbly in the suites.

    Jun 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,003

    And those numbers in Spain? Too weird. They give away the tapas so you'll drink the wine, and it works well. Maybe everyone makes their own and it doesn't enter into the stream of commerce. Or maybe they are shipping it out of the country to get dollars as the Euro trembles.

    Jun 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Andorra is on my list of places to visit. been through Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, and San Marino as a youngster but would like to revisit those as well on a grand tour of Europe's micro-nations!

    Jun 20, 2012 at 4:23 PM

  • Snooth User: ezh
    490972 8

    Bait and switch - headline said "Top Wine Producing" article was about "Top Consuming" I would be interested to see a comparison between the two.

    Jun 20, 2012 at 5:51 PM

  • Snooth User: libish
    1016463 5

    Numbers could be up do to lack of taxation/customs duty.
    20 years ago Information Please Almanac listed blackmarket as one of the top industries. In the early 70s it was like going back to the 1300s.

    Jun 20, 2012 at 6:49 PM

  • I am an Andorran citizen. It is true that Andorra has only about 85,000 people living there, but each year receives about 8,551,000 Visitors. Andorra for the visitors it is a kind of duty free shop country, and wine is cheaper than in the neighbour countries (France and Spain). On the other hand, in Andorra we have extremely good Wine and Spirits boutiques, where you can find wines from all over the world. Of course you can buy there the best of the best french, italian,spanish, portuguese, american and so on. Moreover, we have one of the best Single Malt Scotch Whisky boutiques in the world (Cava Benito), a place to find extremely old and rare scotch.

    Jun 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

  • Snooth User: brittmc
    514670 13

    Where is the article about Wine-producing countries?

    Jun 21, 2012 at 9:36 AM

  • Snooth User: Isaac42
    98135 33

    Every time I see one of these articles, it gets me wondering how much wine is being drunk by those who actually drink it. A supposedly moderate drinker (two 5-ounce glasses a day, or ~two fifths of a bottle per day) will drink about 110 liters of wine per year, far higher than the numbers given. Yes, I understand that there are children that skew the numbers, as well as adults who don't drink, and that there are some who drink far more than the average as well. But in France or Italy, what is the median amount consumed per year among those who consume wine regularly?

    Jun 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM

  • Snooth User: ps
    70694 356

    Interesting! I wonder what we can learn from countries that consume a lot of wine? Just as others here I wonder what causes higher consumption - more social people, cheaper wine, nearby production, it's just part of the culture?

    Jun 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

  • Snooth User: alegobibra
    1116745 8

    Thank you for sharing this information. As a (hopefully) future import/exporter of wine, you have provided me with helpful information on which countries to focus on. I would never guess that some of the places mentioned here would fall on this list.

    Jul 01, 2012 at 6:10 PM

  • We have ben working hard since this post was first published in order to raise the UK up the results table.

    The London Olympics have indeed inspired us.

    <a href="">The Sediment Blog</a>

    Sep 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM

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