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From social consumers to experts: new wine drinking patterns in Uruguay

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The pandemic ー and the protocols that came with it ー had a direct impact on the consumption habits of Uruguayans. The majority of the population spent their days indoors to prevent spreading the virus.

These days were difficult, and to pass the time many dedicated themselves to preparing fine dishes, which they knew to accompany with a bottle of wine. This spirit emerged as the great winner of the months of confinement.

According to the National Institute of Viticulture, 50.04 million liters were sold through September 2021. (Photo internet reproduction)

According to National Institute of Viticulture (INAVI) data, last year 72.45 million liters of wine were sold, and in 2021 this figure will be maintained, with 50.04 million liters sold through September.

Iberpark’s director Alejandro Domínguez said that his store’s average sales reach 140,000 bottles a year.

“The main reason for the growth in wine sales during the pandemic is linked to consumption opportunity; this beverage was very popular for home consumption,” said Fábricas Nacionales de Cerveza (FNC) marketing manager Gabriel González. The company first entered the market in August 2020.

But this home confinement stage is over and with a massive return to social life, wine sales remain at the same level as last year. This is due to a shift in the consumption of the beverage: 2020 was an opportunity for the wine market to become more popular, leading to consumers entering more strongly. “They stopped being social consumers to become experts in this spirit,” Dominguez explained.

In addition, these people were increasingly interested in learning about the products. According to Domínguez, “those who know about wine are constantly changing bottles to try different varieties. This also encouraged consumption, because a regular enjoys discovering new products.”

There is an incessant search for new wines, and for information about them to choose when to drink them.


According to INAVI chairman Ricardo Cabrera, wine is an integral part of many social gatherings because each bottle is different. “Sometimes people link moments with a certain drink but, as they learn more about wine, they choose it to accompany a wide variety of events,” he explained.

Consumers are increasingly open to trying new wine varieties, blends and packaging for different occasions. There is a very wide range of opportunities, which may shrink depending on economic means because an average bottle costs $U450 (US$10), with some being cheaper and others more expensive.

What is certain is that there is a wide variety to satisfy the needs of each client, adapting to the taste of each person and each moment. Cabrera said that there is a great impact of red wines for meals and rosé and white wines for toasts and happy hours.


Wine consumers are within a wide age range, with greater popularity among people over 50 and less popularity – albeit growing – among younger people in their 20s. This group prefers it over other spirits, but its consumption has yet to match that of their drink of choice: beer.

“The world of wine is reaching young people as a complement. In the past, the consumption of this beverage by young people was non-existent. Now, in a social gathering there may be a bottle along with other beverages,” Domínguez said.

Asked about the type of wine chosen by this group, Iberpark director said: “Anyone who enters this market does so through soft wines, mainly with a sweet flavor.” He also clarified that this is true for everyone who starts to drink wine, both young and old.

As they get used to the taste, Uruguayans start to look into the wine market to experiment with new flavors. As a result, consumption habits are changing in terms of wine consumption in Uruguay.

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