Italy is practically synonymous with wine and it leads the global export market, with one in every five bottles sold abroad coming from the Mediterranean country. But Italians themselves seem to be losing their appetite for the beverage.
The United States topped the list of biggest wine-drinkers in 2015, followed by France and then Germany, according to a new study from the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV). It’s the first time that Italians have been beaten to the podium by German drinkers.
However, figures from Italy farmers' association Coldiretti show that wine consumption in Italy actually saw a modest rise of 0.3 percent in 2015, whereas in France it fell by 1.2 percent. On the other hand, the US and Germany saw more dramatic rises of one percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
Germans drank 20.5 million hectolitres of wine last year, compared to 30.1 million in the US and 27.2 million in France.
Italy fell just behind Germany, with just under 20.5 million hectolitres downed – the equivalent of about 13.6 billion glasses of vino – however, it does have a significantly smaller population than the top three wine-drinking nations.
Recently Prime Minister Matteo Renzi risked an international fall-out by suggesting the country’s wine was better than France’s. Politicians from Italy's Left Ecology and Freedom Party even suggested introducing compulsory lessons about wine for schoolchildren aged six upwards.
But although the Italians aren't drinking more wine, Made in Italy drinks are becoming increasingly popular abroad, and particularly in the US and Germany, with Chianti and Prosecco among the best-loved varieties worldwide.