The economic problems in Europe are affecting wine drinking. Surprised? Spain has the highest unemployment in the entire European Union — 22.6 percent! This is causing Spanish wine drinkers to switch to cheaper wines, to drinking at home, and to foregoing wine entirely. Sad days indeed.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
"Wine consumption in Spain is very weak, especially in restaurants," said Luis Zapatero, chairman of Bodegas Riojanas SA, a La Rioja, Spain-based winemaker founded in 1890. The company's shares have dropped 26 percent this year compared to a 3.5 percent decline at rival Rioja maker Baron de Ley SA.
Wine consumption in restaurants, hotels and bars fell 12 percent to 66.8 million liters and 14 percent in value to 263 million euros in the first quarter from a year earlier, said Observatorio Espanol del Mercado del Vino, a private foundation that compiles wine statistics from the Agriculture Ministry.
Jose Reidara, manager of Madrid restaurant La Terraza de Suchil, said total sales have decreased 20 percent to 30 percent since an economic crisis started in 2008.
Wine consumption in Spain used to be as high as 70 liters per person per year; today it's now around 20 liters per person per year. So the decline has been occurring for a long time, but it's gotten worse recently. People in Spain are actually turning to beer as a lower-cost alternative, if you can believe it!
And Spain isn’t only country in Europe experiencing a decline in wine drinking:
Wine consumption in France dropped 14 percent to 45.2 liters per capita from 2006 to 2009, according to the Wine Institute, an association for California wines. In Italy, wine drinking fell 10 percent to 42.2 liters per capita during the same period.
Spanish wine makers are focusing on exports in order to make up the difference lost in domestic consumption. Some wine makers are looking to double exports, which may lead to some nice deals for fans of Spanish wines all over the world. If you're interested in Spanish wines, you should take another look at them and see what kinds of deals are available.