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World spends 320 billion euros on wine a year, experts at Bordeaux's Vinexpo say

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The world’s drinks bill is running at 320 billion euros per year, according to industry insiders gathered at the Vinexpo trade fair in France’s major wine-producing region of Bordeaux this week. Despite economic crisis the trade is booming but Bordeaux's prices may be headed for a tumble.

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"A hundred and eighty billion US dollars […] was spent by consumers in 2009 on wine and 280 billion US dollars on spirits," Robert Beynat, chief executive of Vinexpo, told the AFP news agency.

The trade’s income is three times that of the aeronautics industry, now being feted at the Le Bourget salon near Paris, he said.

Bordeaux-based winemaker Jean-Michel Cazes received a Masters of Wine Institute Lifetime Achievement Award at the salon on Tuesday. Cazes owns seven vineyards around the world, the most prestigious being Château Lynch Bages, a grand cru classé of the Pauillac area of Bordeaux.

American Robert Mondavi and Italian Piero Antinori have previously received the award.

The salon comes as Bordeaux prices are under pressure, despite predictions that the 2010 will be another great vintage.

London wine merchants told the Financial Times that pre-bottling sales of the vintage are running at half those of 2009, whose popularity led to prices going up 50 per cent.

Bordeaux growers are profiting from soaring demand in Asia, especially China, but investors now reportedly fear a “Bordeaux bubble”.

Other trends include:

  • France remains the leading exporter in value at eight billion euros in 2010;
  • Italy has bypassed France in volume sales, with 14 per cent growth in 2010;
  • Brazil’s bottled exports grew 144 per cent over the first quarter of this year compared to first quarter 2009, according to the Brazilian Wine Institute – most exports go to Britain;
  • The United States spends the most on wine and is expected to soon bypass Britain in volume;
  • China is the seventh-largest grape-based wine producer and growing thanks to government support for new vineyards, according to International Wine and Spirit Research;
  • Indian consumption increased 170 per cent from 2004 to 2010 and surface area under vines doubled from 2007 to 2010 – 56 per cent expansion is expected by 2014;
  • Corks are making a comeback, with 70 per cent of winemakers using them, after a turn to screwcaps, especially in the New World, according to the world's biggest cork producer Amorim.

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