A compendium of statistics about the wine industry shows that the amount Canadians spend on wine is more than any other country in the world, at least in comparison to countries of a similar size. Essentially, we’re more discerning with our wine purchases.

The information gathered by the wine subscription service Firstleaf reveals which countries produce the most wine, which countries drink the most wine, and which countries spend the most on wine.

The latter category is where Canada stands out. Despite being the 37th most populous country in the world, Canada is 7th in spending on wine.

  1. United States: $47.8 billion
  2. France: $27.4 billion
  3. Italy: $26.1 billion
  4. China: $25.5 billion
  5. United Kingdom: $23.6 billion
  6. Germany: $16.9 billion
  7. Canada: $16.3 billion
  8. Argentina: $14.1 billion
  9. Indonesia: $12.2 billion
  10. Russia: $11.8 billion

Of the countries on the top 10 list for wine spending, Canada has the smallest population. 

What’s even more interesting is that Canada ranks 12th in the world in wine consumption. Canadians, in total, drink less than the people of Russia or Argentina — but we spend more.

Why is this so? 

Limited Domestic Wine Availability

One reason could be climate. The extremely cold temperatures in Canada can make it challenging for vineyards to thrive. Canada does have some vineyards below the 50th parallel, especially in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. (Wayne Gretzky Estates has locations in both regions.)

But overall, Canada has only 800 wineries. The U.S. state of California alone has more than 4,000.

Canadian Wine Culture

Of course let’s not count out the other possibility — that Canadians simply prefer to drink higher-quality wine than people in other nations. Consider the example of Germany. According to recent statistics, Germans consume 4 times as much wine as Canadians. But, as a nation, they only spend 4 percent more on wine purchases ($16.9 billion versus $16.3 billion). 

It seems clear that if Canadians are buying a quarter as much wine as Germans, but spending a similar amount, they are going for higher-end bottles.

In Europe, wine is more likely to be consumed every day, as part of a normal weeknight dinner, alongside lunch — or even at breakfast. Typically, these wines are lower-alcohol or lower-quality. The term “table wine” was a originally a European legal designation for wine of lesser quality, compared to those wines that came from a designated wine-producing region.

In Canada, wine is often reserved for weekends or special occasions, holidays, and the like, or when going out to an upscale restaurant. In most of these circumstances, people are going to choose higher quality and more expensive bottles.

So what do you think? Is it climate or culture that apparently makes Canadians more likely to spend big when they drink wine?