Will the world's wine supplies run dry?

According to research released this month by Morgan Stanley, global wine production is decreasing, but we’re guzzling more and more of the stuff.

It’s a sobering thought. According to research released this month by Morgan Stanley, global wine production is decreasing, but we’re guzzling more and more of the stuff. The report finds that wine production peaked in 2004 and has been steadily declining since to reach its lowest level in 40 years. Globally, wine consumption increased 8 per cent between 2000-2012. “The data suggests there may be insufficient supply to meet demand in coming years, as current vintages are released,” the report concludes.

Interestingly, wine consumption is decreasing in old world wine countries. Although in France in 1980 51 per cent of French people drank wine every day or nearly every day, in 2010 this proportion had gone down to 17 per cent and many more are opting for mineral water, soft drinks or juice instead. This trend is mirrored in Spain and Italy. Wine consumption has gone down slightly in the UK too, it’s down 4 per cent since 2007. But, this is offset by increased demand in countries like the US and China. In China wine consumption increased almost 150 per cent in the past five years.

The good news for wine-lovers is that a report published yesterday by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine suggests that this year wine production increased, and should reach 2006 levels. It does however say that the world’s vineyards are shrinking, so it’s hard to see how wine demand will keep up with supply in the long-term. Unless we all turn to vodka, or like the sensible French, mineral water.  

Photo: Getty.

Sophie McBain is a freelance writer based in Cairo. She was previously an assistant editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Are the Conservatives getting ready to learn to love the EEA?

You can see the shape of the deal that the right would accept. 

In an early morning address aimed half reassuring the markets and half at salvaging his own legacy, George Osborne set out the government’s stall.

The difficulty was that the two halves were hard to reconcile. Talk of “fixing the roof” and getting Britain’s finances in control, an established part of Treasury setpieces under Osborne, are usually merely wrong. With the prospect of further downgrades in Britain’s credit rating and thus its ability to borrow cheaply, the £1.6 trillion that Britain still owes and the country’s deficit in day-to-day spending, they acquired a fresh layer of black humour. It made for uneasy listening.

But more importantly, it offered further signs of what post-Brexit deal the Conservatives will attempt to strike. Boris Johnson, the frontrunner for the Conservative leadership, set out the deal he wants in his Telegraph column: British access to the single market, free movement of British workers within the European Union but border control for workers from the EU within Britain.

There is no chance of that deal – in fact, reading Johnson’s Telegraph column called to mind the exasperated response that Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal and a supporter of a Remain vote, gave upon hearing that one of his players wanted to move to Real Madrid: “It's like you wanting to marry Miss World and she doesn't want you, what can I do about it? I can try to help you, but if she does not want to marry you what can I do?”

But Osborne, who has yet to rule out a bid for the top job and confirmed his intention to serve in the post-Cameron government, hinted at the deal that seems most likely – or, at least, the most optimistic: one that keeps Britain in the single market and therefore protects Britain’s financial services and manufacturing sectors.

For the Conservatives, you can see how such a deal might not prove electorally disastrous – it would allow them to maintain the idea with its own voters that they had voted for greater “sovereignty” while maintaining their easy continental holidays, au pairs and access to the Erasmus scheme.  They might be able to secure a few votes from relieved supporters of Remain who backed the Liberal Democrats or Labour at the last election – but, in any case, you can see how a deal of that kind would be sellable to their coalition of the vote. For Johnson, further disillusionment and anger among the voters of Sunderland, Hull and so on are a price that a Tory government can happily pay – and indeed, has, during both of the Conservatives’ recent long stays in government from 1951 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1997.

It feels unlikely that it will be a price that those Labour voters who backed a Leave vote – or the ethnic and social minorities that may take the blame – can happily pay.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.