Were you ever curious about who are wine lovers? Wine has been produced and enjoyed worldwide for centuries, so let’s start at the beginning…

Historic Wine Lovers

The first wine lovers that we know of were not in Europe at all, but rather in China, where sites showing evidence of wine enjoyment as early as 7000 BC! However, Europeans are close behind, with wine being consumed in Georgia as early as 6000 BC, Iran (5000 BC), Greece (4500 BC) and Sicily (4000 BC). Of course, an Italian region is in the top five!

However, historically, wine was not as we know and love it today. The wine that the ancients drank was sour, almost vinegar-like (you can still find similar things on some farms where people brew their own hootch!). People drank it, as monks drank the beer they brewed, to avoid drinking disease ridden milk and contaminated water. The alcohol in the wine would be mixed with water and kill of bacteria. It wasn’t until the Renaissance that people began to consider where their wine was coming from, and the idea of terroir was born. Finally, in the 18th century around the time of the Enlightenment, when revolution and a safer water supply meant that people could choose, so wine producers had to make wine more appealing!

Wine Consumption Globally

So, that begs the questions, where do we stand now? Who are the world’s biggest wine lovers today? While historically we see that wine was loved all over the world but with primary consumption and appreciation beginning in Europe, today the picture has changed drastically. According to The Drinks Business, an industry trade watchdog, world wine consumption is set to reach a global value of $224.5 billion by 2021, with China and the United States driving the trend. Today, the United States is the most valuable wine market, worth more than $36 billion in 2017. That same market is slated to grow by 25% in 2021, so it is safe to say that Americans certainly love their wine.

A 2017 study by the Oganisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin lays out the state of the vitiviniculture world market, and it’s quite an interesting layout. In 2016, world wine consumption was estimated to be 242 mhl, a slight increase over 2015. The United States has consistently had the most wine lovers since 2011 and sees continued increasing demand. From 2016 to 2017 we saw a slight decrease in consumption in France, with consumption in Spain and Italy remaining steady and consumption in Italy on the rise for the second year in a row. The UK saw a large increase in consumption, and China also experienced a continued increase in demand, which began to rise in the 2000s. So, Americans and Western Europeans in traditional wine producing countries, as well as the Chinese, seem to be today’s most influential wine lovers, which falls in line with the tourism trends of wine lovers coming to Tuscany to learn about Italian wine, as well. Many Americans have always come to Tuscany as wine lovers, but now the Chinese will be joining en masse.

Famous Wine Lovers

Of course, history has given us some very interesting and influential wine lovers as well! Who are some of the world’s more famous wine lovers? For starters, Ernest Hemingway loved wine and proved it during his many years in Europe writing before moving to Key West in Florida. He wrote, “Drinking wine was not a snobbism or a sign of sophistication nor a cult, it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary,” in his work A Moveable Feast, which he wrote while living in Paris. Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, together with Thomas Jefferson were also very much into wine. Jefferson reportedly had it imported from France even during the revolution – to calm the nerves, perhaps? Some other famous wine lovers include Napoleon Bonaparte, who was particularly fond of champagne, and even William Shakespeare, who wrote “Good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people,” in his play Henry VIII.

Wine lovers are people who enjoy the fruit of life. People who understand that at the end of the day there is nothing more enjoyable than to survey your work and sip a nice glass of wine that you love, whatever that may be. Wine is and always has been an incredibly important part of not just Tuscan or Italian culture, but humanity as well. While world trends may change, and the U.S. continues to host the most avid wine lovers, there is something to be said for quality over quantity as well. Those who truly love wine want to really understand it, and enjoy it, with the food it is meant to be paired with and the people they love as well. In Tuscany our tradition is to have wine with a nice meal and friends, and we look forward to sharing what we know about our particular wines when you come to learn about the wonderful wines we have to offer.

Claudia Marie Huynh