Drinking excellent Spanish wine while relaxing around a swimming pool, at a beachside chiringuito or standing cheek-by-jowl in a packed and vibrant bodega has long been one of the great simple pleasures of life in Spain…
But for years, actual consumption of wine in Spain was falling – and nobody really knew why. Sure, the suffering economy may have had an impact, but often in tough times people turn to simple and affordable treats to see them through: and there are fewer more affordable things in Spain than its local wine.
Others have stipulated that wine’s image became somewhat staid and boring, particularly among young Spaniards who have tended to prefer beers and strong spirits such as rum and gin.
But in 2016, that trend appears to have reversed, with data from the Spanish Wine Market Observatory (Observatorio Español del Mercado del Vino) revealing a 4% increase in consumption in Spain, with 9.8 million hectolitres consumed.
As a wine-producing nation, Spain is the world leader, making 42 million hectolitres a year. So of the world’s leading producers, Spain ranks bottom in terms of actual consumption. Indeed, by 2014 annual consumption of wine per head had fallen to 21 litres – down from more than 40 in 1970.
That figure is now at around 22 litres per head, which is the same as in the UK but still way below the average annual consumption of Europe’s leading wine-producing countries.
For example, official data shows that Croatians and Slovenians drink 44 litres of wine per year, with the French on 42.5 litres, the Portuguese on 41.7 litres and Italians on 33 litres.
All of these nations come some way behind the world leaders of The Vatican, however, where the average consumption in this tiny country is a whopping 53.83 litres.