CALISTOGA, Calif. -- Wines from Spain are selling better than their French counterparts in supermarkets, according to a new report examining sales figures for the first half of 2003 -- a period that included the controversy over France's opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Some industry observers believe the numbers reflect the exploitation by wine importers from smaller countries like Chile and Australia of the possible reluctance of Americans to buy French products.
An analysis by Wine Market Report shows French wine volume sold in U.S. supermarkets fell 15.5% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period a year earlier, while Spanish wine sales rose 20.5% in the first half from a year earlier. Unlike France, Spain backed the war in Iraq.
Wine buyer Nancy Pahlman of Andronico's Markets, Albany, Calif., downplayed the figures, saying, Spanish wine has been growing for months, and "there's also a lot of Chilean" movement.
"We haven't seen any big drop-off in French," she said.
Pahlman noted Spanish wine has a smaller volume than French, so on a relative level, growth rates for Spanish bottles would appear higher anyway.