Which countries produce the most wine? More importantly, which countries consume the most? Benjamin Hennig investigates
The geography of wine – the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial fermentation of fresh grapes – can be viewed both from the perspective of producers or consumers. This cartogram visually depicts the consumer side of a market that has undergone some major regional shifts over the past decades. It shows the countries of the world resized in proportion to their absolute annual wine consumption in recent years. The largest absolute consumers are also labelled. The map also indicates those countries’ production levels (shown by the bottle infographics).
The world’s annual consumption of wine is almost 250 million hectolitres (one hectolitre = 100 litres). That corresponds to the volume of 10,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The United States accounts for 30 million hectolitres and has, in recent years, become the world’s largest market for wine – a position it took over from France in 2013. However, with an annual consumption per capita of around ten litres, the United States has a lower consumption per capita than almost all other wine-producing countries. France, for example, has a per capita consumption level of 48 litres and even Greece and Belgium outdo the States at 26 litres and 28 litres per capita of consumption respectively (South Africa’s per capita consumption figures were unavailable at time of going to print).
“Wine is produced commercially in more than 70 countries, three of which account for almost half of the world’s production: France, Italy and Spain”
A relative newcomer in this map is China, which has more than tripled its consumption in just a decade. China is the world’s fifth largest market for wine at almost 18 million hectolitres per year. However, the country’s annual consumption per capita is still modest at just 1.3 litres.
The world’s annual production is around 270 million hectolitres (varying significantly from one year to another, primarily depending on weather conditions) and wine is produced commercially in more than 70 countries, three of which account for almost half of the world’s production: France, Italy and Spain. Vineyards with wine grapes cover an area of around 54,000 square kilometres which equals the size of eight million football fields. Red varieties make up around 60 per cent of the grapes.
The figures for this month’s cartogram were produced in collaboration with Morten Scholer using data by the International Organization of Vine and Wine, the World Wine Trade Group and the Wine Institute (California). They reflect the average production and consumption from the years 2011 to 2014.