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Spain Now Exports More Wine Than France, But Rakes In Way Less Cash

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It's all about reputation

Miguel Checa/Flickr

For most casual drinkers, the term imported wine likely brings to mind French Burgundies, Chardonnays, and Cabs — but Spain is now actually the world's biggest wine exporter. That doesn't mean Spanish winemakers are rolling in dough Scrooge McDuck-style, however; as The Independent reports, Spanish wines on average bring in less than one-third the price of their French counterparts.

According to a new report from the Spanish Wine Market Observatory, in 2015 Spain exported 2.4 billion liters of wine that raked in $2.8 billion. Meanwhile, France exported slightly less wine — about 2 billion liters — but brought in nearly $9 billion.

So why isn't Spain making more money on wine? The majority of Spanish wine is sold in bulk at lower prices to other producers, who blend it with other wines, bottle it, and sell it, sometimes without denoting its origin on the label. (France is in fact the largest purchaser of Spanish wine; scandalously enough, it's often cheaper for French wineries to import Spanish wine and sell it, rather than growing the grapes and making it themselves.)

Despite the fact that it produces many excellent wines, from affordable Champagne alternative Cava to Tempranillo, Spain simply doesn't have the kind of lofty winemaking reputation that France or even Italy does. But what's bad news for Spain is good for American wine lovers, as there are still plenty of Spanish wine bargains to be had.

Meanwhile, America is holding its own when it comes to wine: Last year we exported $1.6 billion worth, the vast majority of which was produced in California.

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