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More people are looking for Italian wine online, but retailers don’t appear to have noticed.
By Don Kavanagh | Posted Thursday, 12-Sep-2019

While France still rules the roost when it comes to what people look for on Wine-Searcher, the big winner in terms of interest is Italy – but retailers aren’t keeping up with the changes in demand.

As we noted in a story last month, interest in Italian wine has been growing and Wine-Searcher’s figures certainly back that up. However, despite Italy displacing the US in terms of interest back in 2018, the number of offers – that is, the number of wines being offered for sale by retailers on Wine-Searcher – listed for US wines outstrips the number of Italian offers by almost one third. While Italian wines currently account for 16.44 percent of searches so far this year (and 16.95 percent of offers), US wines made up just 14.9 percent of searches but accounted for 22.4 percent of offers.

It’s another good news story for Italian producers, after we reported in July on how Italian wine price growth was outstripping that of Bordeaux. In the US itself – a hugely parochial market, where even French wine is subordinate to the local stuff – the numbers are closer, but still weigh heavily in favor of local wines. In 2014, Italian wines made up 14.72 percent of all searches and 13.41 percent of offers, while the corresponding figures for US wines were 37.1 percent and 45.75 percent. So far this year, Italian wines account for 15.63 percent of all searches, but the number of offers for Italian wines has fallen to 12.75 percent. US wines dropped in search numbers (to 34.55 percent of all searches), but remained almost the same for offers (44.85 percent).

Globally it’s all about French wine, however. Wine from France has dominated interest on Wine-Searcher since the site’s inception 20 years ago, and consumers show no sign of getting fed up with it. Five years ago, searches for French wines made up 45.66 percent of all searches on Wine-Searcher (almost 44 million out of a total of 96m searches) and last year that figure peaked at 47.92 percent (72m out of a total of 151.5m searches). So far this year, French wines accounted for 47.16 percent of searches, or 48.1m out of 102m total searches. Conversely, the number of offers for French wines has fallen from 33 percent of the total offers in 2014 to 30 percent today.

Overall, the 10 most popular countries among Wine-Searcher users are the ones you’d expect, even if the order possibly isn’t.

France is followed by Italy and then it’s the US, Spain, Australia, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Germany and New Zealand. However, Australia looks like it will be overtaking Spain soon, and Germany has climbed above Argentina so far this year. As far as offers go, the bottom four in descending order are Germany, Argentina, Chile and South Africa, which replaces New Zealand – this is most likely as a result of available volumes, rather than a lack of retailer interest in Kiwi wines.

The figures are based on searches from our 20 largest user countries, which provide some interesting snippets themselves.

The US is obviously the largest source of searches (almost exactly one-third of them, to be precise), followed by the UK, China, Hong Kong and France. But per capita searches offer a fascinating glimpse of how wine-obsessed those countries actually are.

US searches amount to 10.3 percent of the country’s entire population, which is quite impressive when you consider 30 percent of Americans don’t drink at all. The UK is even more impressive, equating to 12.75 percent of the national population. China’s huge population means that searches are a comparatively minuscule 0.45 percent of the total population and the equivalent of just 6.42 percent of French people have used Wine-Searcher so far this year. Clearly they are more interested in drinking it than searching for it online.

The most heroically enthusiastic users of Wine-Searcher, however, come from Hong Kong. With a population of around 7.5m people, the territory has racked up the equivalent of 80 percent of that number in searches so far this year.


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