the third-most acres of vineyards in the world, according to the United Nations, behind Spain, which has a whopping 25% more vineyard acreage than France, and China.
But France and Italy produce more wine than any other countries; they swap the No. 1 spot back and forth, depending on vintage. Despite having many more vines, Spain produces much less wine than France "produces," according to the official stats -- anywhere from 25 to 50% less, depending on the vintage.
The astute reader will have noted the use of quotes in the previous paragraph around a single word that is not actually a quotation. Here's why.
the largest in the world. And guess where it sells the most bulk wine? That's right, France. Spain sells twice as much bulk wine to France as it does to Germany, its second-biggest market.
There's no doubt about what happens to Spanish (and Italian) bulk wine in Germany: it's boxed up and sold in supermarkets as Spanish (and Italian) wine.
Where does all that Spanish bulk wine sold to France go?
I want to thank my friend Aimée Lasseigne New, assistant manager at Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit in New York, for asking me this question.
Last year, angry French winemakers sabotaged tanker trucks of Spanish wine coming into the country, opening the valves and letting wine flow onto the highway. The protesters claimed that the Spanish wine would be mixed in with South American wine and sold as such.
Maybe. But look at those numbers again.
Could tanker trucks explain how France "produces" much more wine than Spain despite having a lot less vineyard acreage?