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.
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.
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!
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?
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.