China has overtaken France and Italy to become the world's number one consumer of red wine, although the United States remains the world's biggest consumer of all types of wines, the wine and spirits trade association Vinexpo said this week.
China drank 1.865 billion bottles of red wine last year, or in trade terms, 155 million nine-liter cases, contributing to a 136 percent increase in consumption in the country over the past five years.
That beat France into second place for red wine and Italy into third, Vinexpo said, based on figures compiled by the London-based International Wine and Spirit Research firm.
Demand for wine has surged in recent years in China, the world's second largest economy with a population of 1.3 billion, driven by a rapid expansion in personal wealth as well as growing demand for foreign products.
The reason for the massive surge in red wine in particular is because the color is associated with luck in China, wine experts said.
"Red is the color of luck and good fortune, and white is the color of death," said Guillaume Deglise, the new CEO of Vinexpo. "So you don't want to drink white, why would you?"
But, as the Chinese market matures, Deglise said he also expected an increase in consumption of white wines and champagne.
Overall, the United States remains the world's top wine consumer, Vinexpo said, with China remaining in fifth place and not expected to change that ranking in the immediate future, the organization said.
Since 2011 the United States has been the world's largest wine consumer, with consumption expected to hit 385 million cases by 2017.
The increase in wine consumption in China might be rubbing some French people the wrong way. Last year, a group of Chinese students studying wine in France were attacked by a group of Frenchmen, according to The New York Times.
Al Jazeera and wire services