Sep 04 2008

Wine demand flourishes; will supply wither?

Published by at 10:23 PM under News and Trends,Savvy Sip Tips

Two new reports bring mixed news for wine enthusiasts.

The first shows we’re in good company. Wine consumption in the United States rose 3.2 percent in 2007, according the Beverage Information Group’s 2008 Wine Handbook. This is the fourteenth consecutive year of increases in consumption, and it was matched by an increase in spending.

“If wine continues to grow at these levels, the U.S. will surpass both Italy and France to become both the largest wine market and biggest wine importer in the world by the end of the decade,” says Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group, based in Norwalk, Connecticut.

At the same time, California growers and winemakers are reporting that the 2008 harvest could be 20 percent smaller than last year and as much as one-third less than in 2005, thanks to deep frosts, hot weather and inadequate rain, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Add to this tricky mix a weak dollar against the euro, meaning imported wine is more costly and harder to find, and you may have the perfect storm.

Or not. There still are wines from regions that do not use the euro and are not California: Brazil, Chile, Australia, Oregon and Washington, to name a few. We might be forced out of a comfort zone or two, but we might discover some great new favorites.

And as one constantly waging the war against perceived wine elitism, I’m always thrilled by news that consumption is growing. As word gets out, maybe more people will view wine as an everyday, casual beverage, as common as having a beer after mowing the lawn on a hot Saturday afternoon. Maybe they will stop calling me a wine snob just because I choose it over a beer after mowing the lawn on a hot Saturday afternoon.

In light of these two reports, spend a little time scoping out the selection at your friendly neighborhood wine store. Talk to the pros behind the counter. See what’s different and plentiful and affordable and give something new a try. Issue your own report and send it back to me!

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