US becomes the world’s leading still light wine market

The US overtook Italy in 2011 to become the largest single still light wine market, according to the IWSR.

Still light wine sales in the US reached 300.6m cases in 2011, a rise of 4.2% over 2010. Meanwhile, the Italian market declined by 1.2% to 297.3m cases. France also continued its long-term decline, falling by 0.8% to 271.6m cases.

In the US, local wines increased by 5.1% to 221m cases, whereas imports increased by 1.9% to 82.1m cases. Within that, demand for moscato and sweet red wines soared in 2011.

In the US, the term “light wine” refers to wine with 14% or less alcohol by volume. The IWSR have confirmed, “still light wine is still wine, as opposed to sparkling wine, up to the strength of 14% abv.”

The IWSR report added that Old World wines in general have done well with rises for Italy (+9.1%), France (+5.4%) and Spain (+8.7%).

Australian wines (-7%) continue to struggle in face of a raft of local brands priced at a similar level and as consumers experiment with other brands from other countries.

The IWSR forecasts that the US still light wine market will reach 322m cases by 2015, with an estimated 3.5m Americans reaching legal drinking age annually, while there is also more frequent usage and wider geographic take-up.

As predicted by the drinks business the US is set to lead the top 10 still wine consuming countries in 2014.

6 Responses to “US becomes the world’s leading still light wine market”

  1. Apologies if I seem ignorant or ill-informed, but I have been in the wine industry for nearly four decades and I am unfamiliar with the term “light” as it refers to wine. Lite beer yes, but “light wine”??? Can you explain what the term signifies.
    Thank you
    Bruce Nichols
    A Nichols Worth of Wine

  2. Jeff Kimbel says:

    Same here! Are there “heavy” wines? Maybe fortified vs non-fortified.

  3. Nora says:

    Same query, glad someone else asked. I’m in industry as well… never heard ‘light’ wine referenced. Assuming it refers to <12% alcohol?

  4. Mike Nedeau says:

    I am assuming “light” means un-oaked, clean, crisp and refreshing such as sauv blanc, pinot grigio/gris, verdejo, cortese, etc.


  5. Martin Crummy says:

    Hey all, thanks for the comments. The light in this instance means low in alcohol. I’ll add a line in the story to make this more clear. Martin.

  6. ravi singh says:

    SLW- usually refers to wine made by fermenting grape juice up to 15% alcohol.
    This also includes lightly sparking wines like Lambrusco.

    Martin I think you may stand corrected.

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