BORDEAUX (AFP) - China has become the world's biggest consumer of red wine, outdrinking the wine-loving French for the first time in 2013, according to a study published this week.
China, including Hong Kong, drank more than 155 million cases of red wine in 2013, according to the study by Vinexpo, which runs wine and spirits trade shows, and the British International Wine and Spirit Research thinktank.
This placed China ahead of France, which only drank 150 million cases of red wine last year, as well as Italy (141 million), the United States (134 million) and Germany (112 million).
Overall, the United States has been the world's top consumer of wine since 2011, and its red wine consumption is expected to jump 14 per cent in the next five years, the study found.
Demand for wine has surged in recent years in China, the world's second largest economy with a population of 1.3 billion, driven by a rapid expansion in personal wealth as well as growing demand for foreign products.
Meanwhile wine consumption in France has dropped 18 per cent since 2007 and Italy also saw a 5.8 per cent drop in the same period.
"There has been a real change in the Chinese mentality. Vineyards are being planted in a massive way and the distribution network has multiplied," said Guillaume Deglise, the director general of Vinexpo.
The study showed that global consumption of wine continues to increase.
Between 2008 and 2012 it grew 3,23 per cent and is expected to jump another 4.97 per cent by 2017.
The study also showed that Baijiu, a white Chinese spirit distilled from sorghum, rice or wheat that contains about 38 per cent alcohol, remains the world's most consumed liquor.
Vodka consumption has dropped six per cent over the past five years, mainly due to less of it being drunk in Russia.
Vinexpo, which holds its trade fairs in Bordeaux in alternate years, shows this year in Hong Kong between May 27-29.