TORONTO - Canadians are saying "ole" when it comes to tequila, with more people expected to knock back shots of the spirit in the next few years, a new study suggests.
Tequila tippling in Canada is predicted to be up 16.7 per cent by 2018, says the biannual study conducted by the British agency International Wine and Spirit Research.
Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of the Vinexpo trade show which commissioned the study, points to the fact that tequila is a good base for cocktails.
"The spirits business is really a fashion and fad. It was vodka for 10 to 15 years, now it's tequila and tomorrow it will be something else," he said Tuesday in Toronto where he released the study, which forecasts the wine and spirits market through 2018.
"We've seen this year the phenomenon of mixologists and young barmen who are creating fancy cocktails ... and now the mixologists are very much like the sommeliers in the wine business."
Canadians are also drinking more imported wines, hitting 32.7 million cases in 2014. One case represents a dozen 750-millilitre bottles.
"Canadians produce a lot of very good wine but probably not enough for domestic consumption," said de Eizaguirre.
In fact, Canucks have a taste for New World varieties, including from New Zealand (up 17.7 per cent), the U.S. (up almost 10 per cent) and Chile (up almost five per cent).
"It's a lot to do with the globalization of the consumer," de Eizaguirre said by telephone. "People travel, people experiment ... and they want to get those products when they get back home."
The U.S. ranks first among the top 10 largest wine markets, with business totalling US$29.5 billion. Canada's market is valued at US$6.1 billion, which analysts say should grow by 10.4 per cent by 2018.
The top three countries in terms of consumption of still wines are the United States, France and Italy, with Canada ranking seventh. The outlook to 2018 hints at a 7.8 per cent increase in Canadians' wine consumption, up to a total of 49.93 million cases.
But de Eizaguirre said it's interesting to note this country is slightly ahead of the U.S. when it comes to per capita consumption. Canadians drink 13.5 litres per capita a year versus 12.3 litres per capita for residents south of the border, "which is not surprising because Canada has a longtime European influence."
"This is obviously very low compared to European standards. France, Italy, Spain are more in the 45 litre per capita (range), but it is quite high when you look at New World consumption."
Canadians' per capita consumption is expected to increase by 4.1 per cent to reach 16.4 litres per adult in 2018.
The new wine phenomenon is rose, which is growing worldwide, and Canada is following the trend. Consumption of sparkling wine, too, is increasing, with Italian Prosecco and Cava from Spain dominating. In Canada, there's been a 14.4 per cent increase in drinking of Italian sparkling wines since 2008, the study shows.
"Sparkling means celebration, but Champagne is sometimes out of reach for some consumers, so obviously when they need bubbles they buy Prosecco or Cava," he said.
Bourbon and cognac also saw steady growth since 2009 in Canada.
The 12th study looked at production trends in 28 countries and the evolution in consumption in 114 markets.
Vinexpo, which takes place every two years, runs June 14-18 in Bordeaux, France.