Italy has lost its top spot in the US wine market, according to local press reports. The Italian Wine & Food Institute said yesterday that, in the first half of this year, Australia exported more wine to the US than Italy, knocking the country from a top spot it had held since 1974.

Imports of wine from Australia in the six-month period totalled 887,000 hectolitres, local press said, while Italy exported 864,000 hectolitres to the US.

France was third with 362,000 hectolitres with Chile fourth exporting 250,000.

Although Italy was still top in earnings, the change in the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar was hurting the quantity of wine bought, the institute said.