U.S. wine market

Phooey on France, give Italy the boot. For second straight year, Americans enjoyed more bottles of wine than imbibers in any other country.

Total U.S. sales in 2011 topped 347 million cases—some four billion bottles, more than a case of wine for every person in America. Estimated retail value: $32.5 billion, according to the Wine Institute, a leading source of U.S. wine information.

That’s a 5.3 percent increase over 2010 and the 18th consecutive year of U.S. wine sales growth.

Parsing numbers reveals who you are, what you drank, and what you are starting to drink:

• Chardonnay reigns, no matter what the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd chants, accounting for 21 percent of vino volume.

• Cabernet sauvignon captures 12 percent of the market, followed by merlot at 10, pinot grigio/gris at eight, and white zinfandel at seven.

• Moscato your must-go? You no longer are alone. Muscat/moscato enjoyed the most growth, claiming four percent of the market and a 73 percent growth over 2010.

• Sparkling wine sales popped, reaching 17.2 million cases, highest in 25 years and up 13 percent over 2010. Prosecco and sparkling moscato led the fizz festival.

• Millenials—those age 21-34—drove growth and now are 26 percent of the market.

• That said, old reliable Baby Boomers—those age 47-66— remain largest group buying wine.

• The world wants our wine, too. Wine exports rose 21.7 percent, one-third going to the European Union. French and Italian vintners must be vexed.


• Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir 2009. Aromatic; raspberry-cherry-roses; cranberry, strawberry; light, simple, pleasing. $15

• Abundance Vineyards French Camp Paso Robles Syrah 2000. Plum, blackberry, blueberry; medium body, simple, soft tannins (after 12 years). $18

• Ladera Lone Canyon Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Supple, juicy, complex, concentrated; smoky plum, blackberry; sweet oak & tannin, smooth winner. $49