America’s love affair with wine continues. We’re pulling further ahead of Europe, but seeing increased competition from China.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by Vinexpo, the world’s most influential wine exhibition, which takes place June 16-22 in Bordeaux, France, expecting 48,000 visitors from 140 nations.

Here’s what the study found:

• United States sippers reaffirmed our country’s role as the world’s No. 1 wine consumer, drinking 3.8 billion bottles in 2011, up 4.5 percent from 2010. We will sip an additional two bottles each a year by 2016, the study says.

• We love champagnes and sparkling wines, with consumption up 18 percent between 2007 and 2011.

• We still like white wines, with consumption up 10 percent since 2007 – led by pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and moscato, with chardonnay slumping. White wines make up 40 percent of the wines we drink.

• Sixty percent of the wines Americans drink are red, although we lost to China our position as the world’s third-largest red wine consumer after France and Italy.

We’re predicted to increase red wine consumption by 18 percent by 2016. Our top three reds: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir.

• Malbec, the mellow, hearty red wine from Argentina and elsewhere, is also gaining fast – up 21 percent in the past year, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, industry analysts.

• Meanwhile, European wine drinkers are cutting back – with German wine consumption down 3 percent, Britain down 4 percent, France down 7 percent and Italy down 3 percent and unemployment-wracked Spain down 20 percent between 2007 and 2011.

• As Americans drink more wine, France, ironically, is drinking more Coca-Cola – tripling its consumption in the past 20 years to 149 cans apiece per year.

• In spirits, worldwide vodka consumption was down 5 percent, brandy up 23 percent and rum up 22 percent.

• China is becoming more important, as the world’s leading spirits consumer.

More than one-third of all the spirits consumed in the world are made up of a Chinese white spirit called Baijiu, distilled from sorghum, wheat or rice.

It’s described as vaguely citrus-flavored, with high alcohol and a fiery bite.

I think I’ll stick with wine.

Highly recommended:

• 2004 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne (38 percent chardonnay, 33 percent pinot noir, 29 percent pinot meunier): lively, long-lasting bubbles, intense flavors of ripe peaches, golden apples and citrus, spicy finish; $60.

• 2009 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: floral aromas, flavors of black cherries and cassis, full-bodied, smooth, long finish; $38.


• Nonvintage “IL” Moscato, by Mionetto, Veneto, Italy: sprightly bubbles, lightly sweet, with floral aromas and flavors of ripe peaches; $13.

• 2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, Calif.,: light-bodied and crisp, with flavors of white grapefruit, limes and cut grass; $10

• 2011 Francis Coppola “Diamond Collection” Pinot Grigio, Calif.: floral aromas, flavors of tart apricots and minerals, crisp and lean; $16.

• 2011 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir, “Vintner’s Reserve,” Calif.: hint of oak, flavors of black cherries and cinnamon, soft and lush; $22.

• 2010 Ghost Pines Merlot, Sonoma & Napa Counties: hint of oak, flavors of cassis and black plums, full body, firm tannins; $20.

• 2011 Trivento Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Arg.: aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries and mocha, mellow tannins; $11.

Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at