What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

377 - Planet of the Grapes

April 27, 2009, 5:02 AM


What a great way this map is to present global levels of wine consumption (red wine, 2006). A shame there’s no legend to provide context (by way of litres consumed per country, a ranking and a bit of explanation).

Why did the Luxembourgers consume such an inordinate amount of red wine in 2006? Was it the Grand Duke’s jubilee, perhaps? Or did the local, tiny wine industry have a bumper crop in 2005? And why is Brazil so tiny by comparison? Doesn’t the South American giant have a wine industry of its own? Or at least a wine-drinking culture – it’s hard to imagine the laid-back Brazilians not having one.

But what do those numbers mean? If this is litres per head per year, then those Luxembourgers haven’t exactly been swilling in the stuff, and the 0,17 litres ingested by the Brazilians suggests far too much sobriety than they can be suspected of.

All this graph/map teaches us, therefore, is relative wine consumption. Apart from the aforementioned Grand-Ducals (who seem to be world champions), other red wine aficionados appear to be the French (unsurprisingly), the Italians (also no shock there), followed by the Portuguese, the Swiss (bet you didn’t think of them), the Croatians, the Spanish, the Danish, the Austrians, the Greeks, the Argentinians, the Georgians (the Sakartvelo kind obviously, not those of Atlanta and environs) and the Hungarians.

Left behind by a whole slew of middle-tier red wine consumers are tiny drinkers such as the Polish, Paraguayans, Russians, Bosnians, Japanese, Lebanese, Estonians, Israelis and Kazakhs. Some of the more striking conclusions:

  • red wine consumption can vary hugely between neighbouring countries. Paraguay is a tiny consumer, Uruguay a huge one. Maybe the latter has a wine industry while the former hasn’t?
  • then again, Chile has a well-known viticultural sector, but is a tiny consumer. Maybe because all the stuff is exported? Other countries with a history of, or at least the appropriate climate for wine-growing are also conspicuously small consumers.
  • Germany is a huge wine country, but an average red wine consumer. Do Germans prefer the white variety?
  • Low red wine consumption should not be equated by low alcohol consumption per se. Local alcoholic drinks might simply have a bigger hold on the market. Russia, for example, consumes a tiny amount of red wine per capita. Which cannot be said of the amount of wodka.

A final note on the sonorous quality of the Portuguese language. Doesn’t Cazaquistao sound fantastically exotic, and even more so than Kazakhstan already does? Portuguese, the other Iberian language, is dwarfed by Spanish, which has 350 million speakers worldwide. That is not to say that Portuguese isn’t a world language in its own right, both in numbers (190 to 230  million, largely thanks to Brazil’s 196 million) and global reach (the Lusophone community numbers 8 countries on 4 continents, among which the world’s second-newest nation, East Timor).

Many thanks to Brazilian graphic designer Alexandre Suannes for sending in this map, which he produced for Expand, a wine producer/importer in Brazil.


377 - Planet of the Grapes

Newsletter: Share: