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America’s one-sided love of European wine


When the United States and the European Union finally buried the hatchet in a long-simmering dispute over government subsidies to Boeing and Airbus in June 2021, wine lovers in the U.S. may well have opened a bottle of Bordeaux to celebrate. While that may sound strange, after all what does wine have to do with airline subsidies, it actually makes perfect sense. Wine was one of the products caught in the middle of a tit-for-tat tariff fight that saw the Trump administration put a 25% levy on certain European food and drink items, including wines from Germany, Spain, France and the UK. Those tariffs were suspended half a year later in a broader bid to improve transatlantic relations which had cooled notably during Trump’s time in office.

As the accompanying chart shows, America’s love of wines from Southern Europe, with France and Italy especially coming to mind, is a one-sided affair. According to Eurostat data, the U.S. imported more than 5 million hectoliters from France and Italy between Aug. 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023—worth roughly $4.5 billion. While Italy was by far the biggest exporter to the U.S. in terms of volume, France is leading in monetary terms thanks to its more pricey grapes. Meanwhile, Europe’s five largest wine producers imported little more than 300,000 hectoliters of wine from the U.S., choosing instead to get high on their own supply, to borrow a quote from the movie Scarface. Germany is the notable exception among Europe’s major wine producers, as it is the only country among the top 5 to import more wine from the U.S. than it ships back across the Atlantic.

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