by Toni Aspler
Canada, the world s largest producer of icewine, is now officially a wine-drinking country. The latest figures issued by Statistics Canada show that in 2005 sales of
wine exceeded those of spirits in terms of dollar value for the first time in the country s history; but both have a long way to go to catch beer. However, in 2005 sales of wine rose at 6.5 per cent rate compared with the growth in beer (3.3%) and spirits (2.3%). According to StatsCan, Canadians 15 years old and above spent $4.2 billion on wine as opposed to $4 billion on spirits. (beer $8.4b) The total each person of drinking age shelled out on alcoholic beverages in that year was $638 of which $161 was spent on wine. Thanks to the French Paradox effect, red wines constituted 54% of wine sales, 80% of which were imported. Sales of white wines represent 32% of the market. The major wine markets in Canada are the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, each of which have their own domestic wine industry, followed by Alberta which does not. Quebec and Ontario combined represent two-thirds of wine-buying purchases. Quebec, with its French heritage, consumes more wine per capita than the other provinces, thanks also to the fact that Quebec s liquor laws allow for wine and beer to be sold in dépanneurs or corner stores - and supermarkets, while spirits can only be purchased in the government-owned stores, Société des alcools du Québec. The most dramatic rise in the value of wine sales occurred in the prairie province of Saskatchewan (16.5 per cent) followed by British Columbia (12.2 per cent) and Ontario (10.6 per cent).