Are you tasting your share?
According to the latest statistics from Wine Institute, a major trade association of California wine producers, the United States ranks fourth in international wine PRODUCTION. But when it comes to wine CONSUMPTION, Americans rank a puny 34th around the world per capita.
Although we make and drink a lot of wine, only a small percentage of Americans enjoy it regularly. A lot of teetotalers and an even larger number of people who drink wine only on rare occasions drag our average down to just two gallons per year (10 bottles) on average. Compare that with 16 gallons consumed annually (80 bottles) by the thirsty folks in Luxembourg; France, Italy and Portugal follow not far behind.
Among other recently recorded wine statistics, the U.S. ranks fifth in vineyard acreage (just behind Turkey); and Americans are third in total consumption (after France and Italy) consuming more than 553 million gallons of wine in 1999. But share all that among 289 million Americans, and - on average - you're looking at a nation of virtual teetotalers when it comes to wine.
This is actually a drop in rank, Ash noted: "Five years ago we were 30th. If all reliable medical evidence now shows that consuming wine (or alcohol) in moderate amounts (2-4 glasses of wine per day) is beneficial to our health, we are clearly not taking the most pleasurable route to a good, long life."
The typical Australian, by the way, consumes 2 1/2 times as much wine in a year as his American cousins. Australia ranks 18th around the world in per capita consumption. The UK, where the average citizen consumes nearly twice as much wine in a year as Americans, ranks 22nd in per capita consumption. Canada is barely ahead of the U.S. in 32nd place. The list includes 66 wine-consuming nations; Egypt ranks last with just 0.01 gallons per capita.)
For the statistics mavens among us, you'll find full details on the Wine Institute Website at the following links. (Take care to keep each link all on one line as you copy-and-paste it into your Web browser.)
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What's YOUR 2001 wine tally?
Pleasee note that we're only asking how many wines you TASTED. For many of us who taste wine as a hobby or business interest, the number of bottles we open might be a dangerous amount if we actually finished them all. But just for the record, and for bragging rights, we invite you to think back over all your dinners, wine tastings, tours and other events and give us your best guess.
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Two affordable Italians
Very dark garnet, almost black. Heady floral and earthy scents with pleasant "barnyard" notes. Black fruit and lemony acidity with just a whiff of something intriguingly akin to blue-veined cheese. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati; a Marc de Grazia Selection. (Dec. 29, 2001)
FOOD MATCH: Beef stracotto (Italian pot roast) on fennel pancakes.
Gini 2000 Soave Classico Superiore ($10.99)
FOOD MATCH: Fine vegetarian match with a Savoy cabbage risotto.
A year of wine and laughter
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Vol. 3, No. 50, Monday, Dec. 31, 2001