Wine production around the world is a tale many millennia old, but did you know that in modern times, more than half the world’s wine is produced by only four countries? And while Italy, France, Spain, and the United States are the world leaders of wine production, new and unexpected countries are popping up on the radar for both their wine production and the high quality of wines produced.
Let’s take a tour of the top 15 wine-producing countries in the world!
Italy takes its wine seriously: combine a long history of wine-making (all the way back to Greek colonization) with an ideal climate and over a million vineyards, and you can see why Italy takes the top spot as the world’s wine producer. Italian wine is as popular at home as it is around the world, and the country produces about 42 to 51 million hectolitres per year or one-quarter of global production. There are over 500 grape varieties planted in Italy’s vineyards, and both red and white wines are produced.
Prosecco, Chianti, and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (perfect for pizza nights!)
What would any list about wine be without France? France is a close second to Italy in wine production at between 36 to 47 million hl per year. Like many countries, France has been affected by climate change and has seen a decrease in wine production before 2018. Nevertheless, France is best known for its top-quality wines.
Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, and Champagne
Spain has the largest area under grape cultivation in Europe but doesn’t produce as much wine. Still, Spanish wines are famous for their distinct taste and are beloved by the Spanish, since domestic consumption rates are high and the cost of wine is low.
Tempranillo, Rioja, Cava, and Sherry
4. United States
Nearly all states in the US produce wine, but almost 90% is produced by California, which, on its own, would be the fourth-largest wine producer in the world! Winemaking has been a part of American history for only a few centuries, and wines produced here and in other non-European countries are called New World wines. Most American wines are produced from the classic European grape variety, Vitis vinifera.
Zinfandel, Merlot, and Corkboard Cabernet Sauvignon
Argentina is a key player in global production of wine, emerging onto the world’s scene just in these last few decades. Most of its wine grapevines are planted in higher elevations, such as in the Mendoza region where 80% of its wine is produced.
Malbec and Torrontés
Though just next door, Chile is actually quite different from its neighbour Argentina, lacking the high altitudes, more than making up for it with hot summers and ocean breezes to produce 9.5 to nearly 13 million hl of wine per year. Not only that, but the wine produced here is both great tasting and kind on your wallet. Chile is best known for its white wines, as well as for reds that thrive in cool climates.
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir
Wine is produced in every state in Australia, though most vineyards are located in the south. Because of its variety in terroir (differences including climate, topography, and soil), the wines produced in Australia are unique to each region.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon
China has one of the oldest winemaking traditions in history, but it was only since the 1980s, as the country became more globalized, that wine production, export, import, and consumption have grown. In fact, modern Chinese wines have a strong French influence, and Hong Kong is now the world’s largest market of fine wines. Chinese wine is constantly changing and improving in the quality year by year.
Longyan, Bordeaux blends such as Marselan and Cabernet Gernischt (Carménère), and Chandon China
German wine production goes back to Roman times, with many historic vineyards located along the Rhine River. Most of Germany’s wine production is in white wine because white grapes tend to thrive in cooler climates. Try out sweet white wines and dry white wines like the famous Riesling, which are also known for being highly acidic. In recent decades, red grapes have been introduced to vineyards across the country as interest in producing and consuming red wines increases.
Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Sekt (a sparkling wine)
10. South Africa
The first bottle of wine was produced way back in 1659 in Cape Town by its founder, Jan van Riebeeck, during the time of the Dutch East India Company. Since then wine production in South Africa continues to centre around Cape Town, one of the country’s capital cities. The Mediterranean-type climate of South Africa makes it perfect for growing wine grapes. Because of its location and multicultural population, South Africa’s wines are a mix of Old World and New World. South Africa is also known for a signature red varietal called Pinotage. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.
Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Corkboard Small Batch Pinotage
Portugal produces all types of wine, from red and white to rosé and sparkling wines from home-grown grape varieties. It is best known for its fortified wines like Port and Madeira, but there’s so much more to try from a country with a rich history in wine-making. If you ever find yourself in Portugal, be sure to try the variety of fresh local wines while visiting two of its most famous wine regions (and UNESCO World Heritage sites), Douro Valley and Pico Island.
Port and Madeira
Romania has one of the longest histories of winemaking in the world and is one of the top wine producers in Europe and the world. With both local and international varieties of grapes grown in the country, each region has its own unique wine. Like other European countries, much of Romanian wine is enjoyed at home.
Feteasca Regala and Crâmposie
While most of Russia, like Canada, is unsuited for growing grapes, wine production is concentrated on only a few regions in the country, such as along the Black Sea. Russian wines are known for being very inexpensive, and most wines produced are sweet wines. In the 21st century, Russia is an up-and-coming wine producer with the growth of new wineries.
Abrau-Durso, Fanagoria, and Château le Grand Vostock
Hungary has had many influences on its winemaking, with the Romans, Hungarian tribes, and the Ottomans all playing a role in its history, and wine grapes being imported from Italy and France. In modern times, there’s been a renewed interest in winemaking in Hungary.
Tokaji aszú and Egri Bikavér
15. New Zealand
New Zealand is relatively new to wine production, starting in the mid-20th century though with roots in colonial times. Wine production takes place all over the country and they are known for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world!
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir
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