Whenever you head to the local liquor store and you’re in the mood for wine, you will typically reach for the classics: an Italian pinot, a French merlot, or a German Riesling. If someone initiates a conversation about the best regions for a delicious bottle of wine, you’ll immediately conjure images of the beautiful landscapes of South Africa, the vineyards of New Zealand, and the sun shining on the grapes of Spain.
Yes, a glass would be pleasant right now just thinking about these places. But would you ever try a white wine from Romania? Or, a red wine from Serbia? Wait, do these countries even produce wines? In fact, they do, and they have some of the biggest output levels of wine in the world today.
So, if they are wine producers, surely there must be others who are just as surprising.
Here are 8 surprising major wine-producing countries:
1. United States
The United States is one of the biggest markets for wine, and most of its output comes from California, specifically Napa Valley. It is estimated that the U.S. produces 3.3 million tonnes a year, and that number is ballooning as demand ticks higher.
Do you think Canada is too cold for winemaking? Not if you travel to Ontario in the spring, summer, and autumn. The nation’s biggest province has been celebrated for its wines, or, at the very least, it has been recognized for its delicious wines that are trying to keep up with the French and Italians.
Romania and wine may not go together like peanut butter and jelly or a white wine and penne Alfredo. That said, Romania is in the world’s top 20, producing nearly 400,000 tonnes every year. While not as prevalent on store shelves as something from Australia, if you ever have the opportunity to find one, then be sure to give it a try. Your palate will thank you.
To some, this is a surprising find. To other, it isn’t so much. Either way, you may be astonished to learn that Greece produces and exports more wine than New Zealand or Austria? It’s true. Greece’s wine production totals more than 300,000 tonnes every year. Since everyone has morphed into a wine connoisseur, people are experimenting with different regions, vines, and brands. They are learning one thing: Where was Greece all my life?
When you think of Russian cuisine, what springs to mind? Typically, it’s the borscht, it’s the salads, it’s the porridge, and it’s the soups. Well, what about the wines? Indeed, Russia is more affiliated with hard liquor, particularly vodka, but it has having an increased influence in wines, too.
Any article you read reviewing Russian wine concludes one thing: Russia is more than just vodka. And the numbers prove it: 325,000 tonnes of wine produced each year.
Like Russia, finding Serbia on the list of winemaking nations might be surprising. We tend to believe that Serbia is nothing more than bitter cold, perpetual winter, and dark clouds. But, contrary to popular opinion, Serbia is home to the 19th largest wine market in the world, suggesting that it’s far more than just a dreary location. Some estimates suggest Serbia could soon top Austria on the global ranking list.
Moldova? That isn’t exactly a country on the mind of many people – 10-to-one you couldn’t find it on a map (hint: it’s neighbor is Romania). Whatever the case may be, Moldova is home to some of the largest cellars and is primarily known for making fine red wines. Although at the bottom of the list of countries producing wines, it is still commendable that Moldova produces 150,000 tonnes of wine.
By now, you’re probably thinking: What doesn’t China produce? Well, you can add China to the list of things that the world’s second-largest economy produces. In fact, you may not believe it, but Beijing ranks fifth on the list of the globe’s top producing nations, churning out 1.7 million tonnes.
China only lags behind Italy, Spain, France, and the U.S. But how come it’s difficult to get your hands on Chinese wine? The reasons may vary, but if you do have the opportunity to find a red or a white wine from China, then be sure to get it. Moreover, any alcoholic beverage that is made in China you should purchase immediately.
Italy, France, and Spain account for half of the world’s wine production. But isn’t it time to branch off into different regions and vineyards?
A Chinese wine to go with your chicken balls and dumplings. A Russia wine to complement your copy of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground.” A white Hungarian dessert wine as you listen to Johannes Brahms’s “Hungarian Dance No. 5.” Indeed, these countries are churning out wine volumes that match the quality of that from Argentina or Austria.