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Top 5 Wine Varietals Consumed in the USA

While American wineries have undoubtedly become extremely skilled at producing award-winning wines over the last few decades, turning the country into the fourth biggest wine producer in the world, Americans are not just in the business of making wine. They’re also adept at drinking it! In fact, in 2019, they drank no less than 33 million hectoliters.

Indeed, the country was once again the largest wine consuming country in the world in 2019, driven by premium wine consumption. According to a study led in 2019, 30% of Americans even cited wine as their favorite drink, a figure skewed towards women with 45% of them now favoring wine over other alcoholic beverages.

With such an appetite for wine, are you now wondering what America’s favorite grape varieties are? Read on as we shed some light on the top five wine varietals in the US!


Chardonnay


Chardonnay (or the ‘’queen of whites’’) is the most popular white wine around the world, and therefore, it comes as no surprise that the grape variety ranks in the top five of the most consumed wine varietals in the USA too.

Widely grown in California, Oregon, New York, and Washington, Chardonnay represented over 15% of the varietals consumed in the country in 2019 with a total sales amount of over $2.5 billion.

Top 5 Wine Varietals Consumed in the USA
While oaky Chardonnays infused with wood flavors were the bulk of Chardonnay’s production before 2010, a number of wineries, especially those located on the West Coast of the country, have, since then, started to experiment with unoaked and less opulent wines, providing Chardonnay enthusiasts with subtler versions of the queen of whites.

Food & Wine Pairing

 If you choose an unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, raw fish and vegetable-based dishes will pair extremely well with your wine. If you prefer full-bodied, oaked Chardonnays, cheddar cheese, and pumpkin-based dishes will make a great food and wine pairing option.

Cabernet Sauvignon


Cabernet Sauvignon is the most famous red wine in the world, and, as such, it is often referred to as the ‘’king of reds’’.

A study led by YouGov in 2019 to determine what kind of wine Americans like to drink, showed that 18% of red wine drinkers were ranking Cabernet Sauvignon as their favorite wine.

Unsurprisingly, the popular grape variety was, therefore, the second most consumed wine varietal in volume in 2019, accounting for 14% of the country’s total wine consumption. While total sales reached over $2.6 billion, placing Cabernet Sauvignon above Chardonnay in value, the volume consumed was inferior to Chardonnays.

The current year should see the Cabernet Sauvignon trend being reinforced as a report published by Nielsen between March and July 2020 showed that sales of Cabernet Sauvignon were up 30% compared to the same period in 2019.

Covering over 101,300 acres, Cabernet Sauvignon is the second most planted varietal in the country and often produces full-flavored wines featuring hints of berries and cassis aromas.

While California’s climate makes it an ideal region to grow tannic and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington’s Columbia Valley has also developed quite a reputation when it comes to the production of high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

Food & Wine Pairing

 If you’re as much a foodie as you are a wine lover, you might be interested in pairing your Cabernet Sauvignon with the best dishes possible. Red meat is a great option to consider if you’re going to open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and so are cheese-based dishes. Note that Californian, Australian, and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon have stronger fruit aromas compared to French Bordeaux.

Red Blends


Often categorized as a wine varietal, Red Blends actually refer to wines made by blending different grape varieties.

With 69% of American wine drinkers favoring red wine over white wine and Rosé, it comes as no surprise that the third most consumed “wine varietal” in volume in the country are red blends. Indeed, with total sales reaching $1.8billion, red blends accounted for approximately 12% of the national wine consumption in 2019.

The category has been popular among wine drinkers as it constitutes a cross over between semisweet and dry wines and has been consistently rising as consumers find Red Blends approachable and usually affordable. Some experts also attribute the growing popularity of this category to the fact that these wines allow consumers to experience different grape varieties in the same bottle.

Petit Verdot is often used as a blending grape, and so are Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Most American Red Blends are produced in large AVAs such as the Napa Valley or the Columbia Valley.

Food & Wine Pairing

Red Blends often have a berry flavor profile and can be paired with flavorsome red meat pieces such as strip loin or braised short ribs. Mushroom burgers can also be a great option to pair Red Blends wines with.

Pinot Gris


Called Pinot Gris in French and Pinot Grigio in Italian, this noble French grape variety was first grown in America in 1966 in the State of Oregon. Since then, its popularity has been consistently increasing due to the work of leading American producers raising awareness.

Pinot Gris also happens to be America’s favorite imported wine, and according to a YouGov study, 13% of wine lovers cited Pinot Grigio as their favorite wine in 2019.

With total sales of Pinot Gris reaching $1.3billion, the popular grape variety accounted for approximately 8% of the national wine consumption in 2019, making it the second most coveted white wine in the country. Domestic production of this zesty wine varietal is most prominent in Oregon, Washington State, the Northern region of Ohio (part of the Pinot Trail), and California.

Food & Wine Pairing

Pinot Grigios usually feature subtle aromas of citrus or stone fruit along with some floral hints. Pinot Gris wines work well with seafood, fish-related dishes, and Japanese cuisine.

Merlot


The word Merlot comes from the French word ‘’merleau’’ and refers to a small bird, particularly keen on Merlot grapes.

While Merlot is grown across the country, it’s predominantly cultivated in California, Washington, and New York.

Merlot wines represented approximately 5.5% of the national wine consumption in 2019 and ranked as the most popular red wine among American wine drinkers, according to a YouGov study.

A recent study carried out by Nielsen confirmed the trend driven by American consumer’s affinity with Merlot. Indeed, according to the report, not only does Merlot remain one of the best-selling red wine varieties in the country, but it’s also the wine varietal that enjoys the highest repeat purchase rate in the USA. American wine enthusiasts seem to enjoy the taste, affordable price point, and versatility of Merlot wines.

Food & Wine Pairing

Talking about versatility, Merlot wines are excellent for a food and wine pairing exercise. From filet mignon and blue cheese-based dishes to caramelized roast veggies, Merlot’s flexibility allows this fabulous wine varietal to be paired with a vast number of foods and can really enhance the aromas and flavors of your meals.

Are you a wine aficionado who enjoys these wine varietals? We’d love to hear about your favorites in the comment section below!

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