World according to Wine

In Britain, we’re a nation of wine lovers. We imported over 100 million nine-litre cases in 2016 alone, mostly from Australia, the USA, France and Italy and each year we are consistently ranked in the top 10 of wine importers. We are, unfortunately, not reciprocating that arrangement – as UK wine production is tiny in comparison to some of the world’s top producers.

How would the world look if it was according to wine? Which countries produce the most wine? Which consume the most? How does this change based on population size? Data collected by House of Townend reveals all in the world according to wine…

There we have it, the top 15 countries by total wine production. Surprisingly, however, looking at production per capita reveals a very different picture!

Wine production per capita

Re-ranking this list by the total amount of people in each country reveals a strikingly different picture. Per capita, Spain is the clear winner – followed by Italy. However, it’s further down the table where the biggest disparities occur…

  • The USA, when re-ranked per capita, falls from the 4th biggest producer to the 12th based on population size.
  • Portugal, which is only 12th in total production, leaps up to 5th in terms of production per population.
  • China, with its billion plus population, falls from 10th to 15th.     
  • But it’s Spain that’s the clear winner. With a smaller population but a large amount of available land mass, it’s Spanish wine that produces the most about of litres per capita.

Europe is the world’s largest wine producing continent, with Italy, France and Spain alone accounting for 51% of world wine production.

But who’s drinking it?

We’ve established the biggest producers – but who is drinking all of the world’s wine? Here are the top 10 importers of wine globally.

  • Germany imports the most wine in terms of volume, followed closely by the UK and the USA.
  • France, one of the world’s biggest producers, is also a big fan of other country’s products – ranking 5th in total imports.
  • Japan may be a surprising inclusion on this list, as the country is not typically associated with wine.

Wine imports per capita

Reranking the list based on population size reveals a completely different side to wine imports!

  • Belgium imports the most wine per person – bringing 26.31 litres per person into the country in 2018.
  • This is followed closely by the Netherlands and Britain – both countries not well known for their wine production.
  • France still remains a significant importer of wines grown outside its own country.
  • Italy and Spain, the biggest producers in the world, do not rank in the top 10 importers.
  • The USA may grow lots of its own wine, but it’s still a heavy importer – indicating that US residents want to try wines from across the world. Conversely, Australia is a big producer but not a big importer – showing that many aussies prefer drinking their own wines.

So there we have it. In Britain, we produce a tiny amount of wine and yet import billions of litres. The USA, itself a huge producer, is also a leading consumer. France is one of the most interesting cases – they grow their own wines in enormous numbers but also import en masse to enjoy tastes of other countries.

When you analyse these figures, it seems that France is perhaps the biggest ‘wine loving’ nation – ranking high in the top 10 for both production and import of wine.

All data for this study has been collected using open source data and then curated by House of Townend. 2018 stats used as they are the latest available figures.