Monday, January 28, 2019

Wine consumption ranked by city

A few weeks ago I looked at wine consumption in different countries, pointing out that since 2010 the USA has been the world's biggest wine consumer. However, that situation is at least partly because the US is the third most populace country, so that even moderate consumption per person will quickly add up.

Another way that people have looked at wine consumption is based on individual cities. Once again, we would expect the largest cities to have the biggest consumption; but we can still ask the question as to the rank order of these large cities.

One organization that has been interested in trying to compile these data is the Wine and Spirit Institute of France’s INSEEC Business School. They have released their estimates for both 2016 and 2018; and these are shown in the graph. The estimates are in terms of millions of standard (750 ml) wine bottles.

Wine consumption per city estimated for 2016 and 2018

For each year, the only data we have are for the top 10 cities, and only eight of these appear on both lists — Naples and Madrid appeared only in the 2016 list, and Berlin and Tokyo only in the 2018 list.

Clearly, the estimates of consumption for 2018 exceed those for 2016, except for Paris (the pink line indicates equality). The biggest increases were for Milan and the conurbation of three cities from the Ruhr industrial region of north-west Germany (Essen, Dortmund and Duisburg now merge into each other). The data for Berlin also seem to show an increase, while the data for Naples and Madrid decreased.

Paris is the clear leader in terms of wine consumption, with second place not getting even close. Paris is not a particularly populous city compared to some of the others in the graph, but it has long been recognized as one of the most-visited cities in the world. Since tourists are likely to have a (French) wine or two while they are in town, trying to estimate per capita consumption would need to take that into account. Indeed, Decanter magazine did have a go at this without correcting for tourism, and their results clearly show the futility of trying to estimate how much wine each person in Paris (local + visitor) is drinking.

Mind you, wine is not cheap in Paris, no matter where you buy it. Indeed, French wine is probably cheaper in your homeland than it is in Paris. So, bring your money with you, if you want to indulge.

Finally, it is worth noting that the definition of a city is not straightforward (see Wikipedia), and I have no idea what version was used for the data collection here. However, no matter what definition we use, none of the cities listed above makes it into the top 10 largest cities in the world. Only Tokyo comes close (top 15), followed by London and New York (top 30). All of the other most-populous cities are not in countries noted for high per capita wine consumption.


  1. Isn't it the per capita number that counts?

    1. It depends on what question you ask. In this case it would be rather difficult to ask about "per person", because so many of the cities involved have a lot of visitors, who are presumably drinking wine.