Canadians prefer goblet to shot glass these days

Earlier this year, I spent some time with master distiller Harold Ferguson at the Canadian Mist operation in Collingwood, Ontario, learning the basics of blending Canadian whisky.

As it turns out, I probably should have been spending more time with some local winemakers or wine sellers to stay current with Canadian consumer preferences.

According to a new Statistics Canada report, wines sales have outpaced spirit sales in the country for the first time ever, by a slight $4.2 billion to $4 billion (Canadian). Beer sales, however, remain way out in front with $8.4 billion in sales for the same fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2005, and was just reported.

The growth in wine sales has been mostly in reds, with sales of that sector up 60% in the past five years. That is more than double the increase in sales of white wine and triple that of all spirits.

Although Canada's modest wine producing sector experienced slight growth, 71 percent of wine bought in the country during the fiscal year was imported from, in order, France, Italy, Australia, the United States and Chile.

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