The Results Are In: Vinexpo Says Americans Are (Very) Thirsty and Rather Simple


You've got to hand it to the United States. They love their wine in all its forms – by the glass, by the bottle, through the written word and by just about anything else which can express the country's love for the nectar of the grape gods.

The United Kingdom newspaper The Daily Mail recently ran its brief on the Vinexpo global wine fair, highlighting the talk of experts who say the American thirst for wine is ready to explode. Curiously, though, their assertions aren't based on the current per-capita drinking habits of the nation, but rather on the potential for Americans to drink as much as their European counterparts.

Mel Dick, an executive at a major United States wine distributor, told The Daily Mail Americans lag behind the Brits, whose per-capita quaffing is at an admirable 20 liters per person per year, and the French, whose statistics laugh in the face of the average American of drinking age, are more than four times than the yearly drinking habits of Americans.

"Think about it," Dick told the Daily Mail. "370 million cases bought (by American consumers) and we only drink about 10 liters per person. If we were drinking like, say, the UK, it would mean 740 million cases. And if we were drinking like the French, 1.6 billion cases."

In other words, the gap between our per-capita numbers and those of the French and English represent a wide swath of people who are ripe for uncorking at least two times more wine each year.

Cheers to that, Dick said.
"The future of wine in the US is phenomenal," he said.

But how to satisfy the cravings of American drinkers who have yet to discover their part in the paltry drinking habits of themselves and their countrymen is another story.

One wine exec from a chain of American wine retailers said the Yanks are all about fruit-forward wines. That same expert said Americans are more focused on price and not region. He also pointed out that the American wine drinker's weakness is colorful labeling, tacitly equating the average quaffer as a color-hungry kindergartner who only wants the toys that look cool.

"So some of the labelling is too confusing, too opaque," the exec told the Daily Mail. "We need colour to jump off the shelf, innovation in labelling. That will help draw attention – and then we can tell the story of the wine, the heritage."

In other words, wine retailers would do well to dazzle with label design, though the point cannot pass without mentioning its rather low view of the average American wine drinker.

The road to filling the per-capita drinking gap has its own set of hurdles, though. The Daily Mail said exporters find the liquor laws of each of the 50 states a little cumbersome.

"For Europeans the US market is tough to approach because of its complexity," the story noted.

Photo Credit: freckledtravels, Flickr Creative Commons

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