Remember in college when you'd drink yourself stupid on Milwaukee's "Beast" with your buddies? Us, too. But now you're classy - you've outgrown that. You're more likely to uncork a bottle of Pinot Noir when friends come over.
You're not alone. The entire country is moving in the same direction, to the consternation and panic of beer manufacturers, who face slowing sales of their flagship brands as consumers turn to wine and other spirits. While international sales are still growing, beer sales in the US (which represents 2/3rd of Anheuser-Busch's sales) have been flat since 2003.
At the same time, grain prices and aluminum prices have risen, making it more expensive to produce and package beer in cans, squeezing beer manufacturers' margins even as domestic sales have stagnated.
Wine consumption in the United States has risen 30% in the past decade, and the nation has overtaken Italy as the #2 consumer of wine, second only to France. 304 million gallons of wine were sold in 2007, reflecting strong growth despite weak economic conditions in the second half of the year.
A larger part of the US population is drinking wine, too - 57% in 2007, compared to 43% in 2000. Unlike previous generations, which generally did not drink wine regularly until they reached their 40s, younger consumers are discovering wine in their 20s and 30s. The proportion of consumers of wine who drink wine at least once a week has also risen, reaching 55%.
Budgetary and personnel shortages in many of the regulatory agencies involved suggest that the continuing uncertainty and inconsistency in the regulatory environment will persist.
The most important factor that has influenced the levels of beer, wine and spirits consumption is the real GDP of the region or country. The other factor is the population of drinking age, that affects the levels of wine and spirits consumption and to a lesser extent beer consumption.
The world wine consumption has been increasing by about 4.5% every year. The following table shows the top 10 wine consuming countries by volume: