Italy produces more wine than any other country in the world, nearly 1.2 million hectoliters (a hectoliter is equivalent to 100 liters) per year. They have also been very successful in exporting their wine, particularly into the United States. Imported wine in 2002 made up nearly 25% of all wine consumed within the United States, and within the import category, Italian wine has by far the largest share, with slightly under 23 million cases, representing an increase of nearly 15% over 2001. By value, imports increased over 23% to over $775 million.
More so than any other country, however, Italian wine is a complex category, with 20 different winegrowing regions and an estimated 1,000 indigenous grapes. This helps make Italy one of the most exciting wine-producing countries in the world. While for many years the reputation of Italian wine had languished, today leading producers in nearly every region are spearheading a drive for higher quality.
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