U.S. wine consumption on the rise | SierraSun.com

U.S. wine consumption on the rise

Janice JonesFood & Wine

Wine has been part of the history of man since at least 3000 B.C., when Egyptians were planting vineyards to produce wines for ceremonies. Wine has held a special place in our customs, social gatherings, and as part of our diets according to historical writings since that time. Religions from around the world have used it, and continue to use it as part of their rites. We have used wine in celebrations in most cultures, and we have and still do hold celebrations in honor of the growth and harvest stages of wine production. In most countries in the world, wine has always been the most common beverage for all ages, mostly because it was safer to consume wine than polluted waters in ancient times. Americans, though, were slow to get on the wine bandwagon. Until recently, we were known for consuming more cocktails and beer than wine. Americans are drinking more wine than ever before, about 2.77 gallons per year per wine drinker. This doesnt mean we have become a country of winos. Quite the contrary, 42.7 percent of Americans do not drink any alcoholic beverages at all. Out of the remaining 56.3 percent of adults, 24.7 percent drink beer and spirits, which leaves the unabashed and ever-increasing in numbers wine consumer. The U.S. will soon become the worlds largest wine consuming country, surpassing France and Italy.Many reasons contribute to this rise in wine consumption. Firstly, the quality of wine produced here has greatly improved in the past 30 years. In particular, California wines have grown from table wine to world class wines during this time. In fact, California wines are first choice and the most familiar to the American wine consumer. Our state produces more than 90 percent of the wine consumed in the U.S. Not only is the wine industry growing, but items associated with wine are being produced and purchased at a rapid pace. You can now purchase corkscrews, wine tags, decanters, and specialized wine glasses from all type of retailers, from Target to your local wine shops. There are games about wines, books that cover all aspects of the wine world, gasses to preserve your opened bottle … accessories easily available to the consumer. Today you can purchase a wine refrigerator at most home-improvement stores, or build a wine cellar in your home, from components easily obtained locally.The rise of the popularity of wine has even surfaced in the world of Nascar racing. Until recently, beer was definitely the alcoholic beverage of choice in the racing circles. Ravenswood winery now sponsors three races, Bennett Lane winery sponsors a racecar, and at the Infinon Raceway in Sonoma, they have just planted 661 Pinot Noir vines in hopes of producing wine from them in three years. Beer remains the nations most popular alcoholic beverage , but wine consumption is on the rise.Consumers are looking for new and different beverages to enjoy, not only for that special occasion, but also one that will go well with foods. Coupled with the fact that wine in moderation can be beneficial to your good health, its no wonder there is a rise in consumption among adults in the U.S.Americans are going out to eat more than ever before, and enjoying wines with those meals. Wines by the glass in restaurants and in bars afford the consumer the opportunity to try new and unusual wines, which widens their appreciation of the different varietals. Wines by the glass allow you to sample new wines without having to purchase a whole bottle, but 74 percent of us will buy a bottle of the wine we tried by the glass, according to the California Wine Institute.Wine consumption, according to another survey by U.S. Wine Consumers, is enjoyed in mostly small intimate settings, and the wine is used to enhance the experience, be it a meal or good conversation. Locally this month there will be a few opportunities to enjoy an evening of enhanced conversation, food and good wines. At The Pour House on Jibboom Street on Nov. 18 from 3 to 6 p.m., you can sample and learn about Henriot Champagne, just in time for the holidays. Then on Nov. 25, the Pour House will be hosting Carol Shelton, the, Queen of Zin. This Zin-Ful Delight tasting will take place between 3 and 6 p.m.Florians Fine Wines and Food will be hosting Peter Mondavi and his Charles Krug wines for sampling. Peter, always a delight to meet, will be autographing wine bottles, and chatting up a storm about his wines and skiing at Northstar. Call Florians for the specific date.Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at sierrafinewines@yahoo.com.