Raise a glass and celebrate: For the first time ever, Americans collectively consumed more wine than the French. Americans not only drank more wine last year, they were also spending a bit more per bottle—after briefly venturing into the cheapo $6 territory during the pit of the economic crisis.
France has a much smaller population than the U.S., and the French still drink much more wine per capita than Americans. That won’t change until Yanks in large numbers trade Budweisers for Chardonnay at barbecues and ball games around the country. In other words: That won’t change ever.
But 2010 marked the first time ever that more wine was consumed in the U.S. than in France, according to the Los Angeles Times, noting that domestic wine sales grew by 7%.
There are also signs that wine drinkers are willing to pay a little for the wine they’re drinking, though the low-ish end still seems to be the hottest part of the market. Earlier reports said that the $9-$12 range has been the fastest-growing segment in the industry. And whereas the $25 bottle used to fly off the shelves, $15 now seems to be the sweet spot for what wine enthusiasts expect to pay for a decent bottle of vino.
The LA Times story offers data indicating that people are going slightly upscale with their selections:
Shoppers, who shifted to wines that cost less than $7 during the height of the recession, are reaching for pricier bottles, analysts said. According to the Wine Institute, sales of wine in the $7-to-$14 category grew 5% in 2010.
But let’s face it: $7, or even $8 or $9, is pretty cheap for a bottle of wine.
No wonder Americans have collectively outdrunk the French. The less we spend per bottle, the more we can afford to drink.