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08.14.2006

THIS is the Average American Wine Consumer

It's easy for everyone, especially wine lovers on either coast to lose sight of what wine consumption in America is really like. Especially in the cocoon that is the San Francisco Bay Area, it's extremely hard to imagine what most Americans are drinking when we have such a bounty of fine wine available to us nearly everywhere and all the time.

Thankfully, there's someone out there keeping track. Since 1988 Restaurant Wine Magazine has been carefully surveying distributors, consumers, and the restaurant industry to determine, with some accuracy, what are the top wines ordered in American restaurants by consumers. The results (which I've published before) are always sobering, especially to my readers.

So without further ado, here's the list of the top 10 wines ordered in American restaurants in 2005:

1. Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay
2. Beringer Vineyards White Zinfandel
3. Cavit Pinot Grigio
4. Sutter Home White Zinfandel
5. Inglenook Chablis
6. Woodbridge Chardonnay
7. Franzia Winetaps Vintner Select White Zinfandel
8. Yellow Tail Chardonnay
9. Yellow Tail Shiraz
10. Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio

Sobering, isn't it? This is the world of wine that millions of Americans live in, a world that is very far away from Vinography's universe and likely yours as well. So what are we talking in terms of volume here? According to the study these top 10 wines, along with next fifty in popularity make up 30% of all the wine sales in the US, at a whopping $3.5 billion in total spending.

Interestingly a full 34% of these top sixty wines were Chardonnays, and white wines outsold reds by a factor of over two-to-one.

You can read about these stats and more in the full report (107k PDF file). I suggest having a glass of something in hand as you read, and if you want to feel good about yourself, you might make sure that it comes from a bottle that costs more than eight bucks.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.