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White hot: Demand for fizz pushes white production to its highest ever level

Published:  14 February, 2024

Global red wine supply and demand have significantly decreased in the last twenty years, while white wine has picked up the slack (along with rosé), largely due to the boom in sparkling wine in markets like the UK.

According to figures released by the OIV at this week’s Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris 2024, production of red wine has declined by 25% since its peak in 2004. The decrease is remarkable also in relative terms: at the beginning of the century, red wines accounted on average for 48% of the total wine production, while in the last few years, its share dropped to 43%.

White wine meanwhile has experienced the opposite trajectory. The most up-to-date figures covering the period from 2001 to 2021 show that in 2021, the production of white wine increased by 13% since its lowest level in 2002 and overcame red wine production as of 2013. At the beginning of the century, white wine accounted on average for 46% of the world total, while in more recent years this share has risen to 49%.

Unsurprisingly, one of the main driving forces behind this increase is the boom of sparkling wine. Driven by the global success of Prosecco, Italy is among the key drivers of growth along with the USA, South Africa and Australia. By contrast, other large white wine-producing countries such as France and Spain (the world’s second and third white wine producers respectively), have recorded a stable trend since the beginning of the century.

“Over the past couple of decades, the world wine sector has seen an overall positive trend of production and consumption of white and rosé wines, while red wines have decreased,” the OIV said in its report.

“This structural shift can be mainly attributed to overall changes in consumer preferences… [For example] The increase in demand for white wine is mostly driven by three important sparkling wine markets: the USA, Germany, and the UK. The rise in consumption in these countries more than compensates for the decline recorded in large wine-consuming countries such as France and Spain.”

Rosé has also experienced a considerable upswing in fortunes over the last twenty years, growing significantly both in terms of demand and supply. Global production grew by 25% between 2001 and 2021. At the beginning of the century, rosé wines represented between 6% and 7% of the world’s production, while in recent years it accounted for more than 8% on average.

In terms of production, the supply of rosé is much more concentrated than in the case of other wines, with the top 10 producing countries representing almost 90% of the world total in 2021, and the top three accounting for two-thirds (France in first position, followed by Spain and the US). In the case of rosé, it is mostly the Northern Hemisphere countries that lead the growth, even though countries such as Chile and South Africa have also shown very high growth rates in the last twenty years.

As in the case of white wines, the growth of consumption in the rosé market can be mainly attributed to an increase in demand in the UK, Germany and the US. France is by far the most in-demand rosé producer, representing more than one-third of global demand.

As a final note on the boom in white production, the UK emerged as the country of origin with the second-highest share of white wine in total national production. New Zealand has the highest proportion (89.6%), followed by the UK (85.5%), Hungary (71.8%), Austria (70.3%), Greece (67.7%) and Germany (64.7%). The top 10 is completed by South Africa (61.2%), Italy (58.4%), the USA (56.1%) and Bulgaria (53.2%).