These are stories Report on Business followed this week.
Alcohol is now a $20-billion business.
It's a changing business, according to a new report, as wine, liqueurs, vodka and coolers become more popular. And it's one that's helping out our governments in troubled times.
Sales of wine, beer and spirits climbed 2.3 per cent last year to $19.6-billion, according to the report this week from Bank of Montreal.
"Growth in Canadian liquor sales was roughly on pace with broader retail sector growth in 2013, with Saskatchewan and Quebec registering strong year-over-year gains of 5.7 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively," said BMO economist Aaron Goertzen.
"According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, alcohol sales contributed $6.1 billion to government coffers Canada-wide in fiscal year 2012, including both direct provincial government revenue and the unremitted profits of alcohol authorities."
Canadians are increasingly favouring wine, whose share of liquor sales has climbed to more than 30 per cent from less than 20 per cent two decades ago, Mr. Goertzen said.
That's based on value, though Mr. Goertzen noted that both volumes and average prices have increased.
And in case you're wondering, red wines have come on strong, with sales by volume surging 283 per cent since the mid-1990s compared to 29 per cent among white wines.
And let no one utter the word "hoser" again. The rise of wine has come "mainly at the expense" of beer, whose share of alcohol sales has withered to 44 per cent from 53 per cent two decades ago.
Spirits are also losing their spirit, though sales of liqueurs, vodka and coolers have surged.
According to Statistics Canada, that $6.1-billion take among provincial and territorial liquor authorities was up 3.6 per cent from about $5.9-billion in the year ending March 31, 2011.
Notable there are some regional breakdowns: The take in Prince Edward Island rose 8.3 per cent, in Newfoundland and Labrador by 7.4 per cent, and in Quebec by 7.6 per cent.
Growth rates in other provinces were nowhere near those levels, and actually declined in Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.
- Oh, Canada: A nation of beer drinkers turns increasingly to wine
- Fight between Beer Store, Ontario corner stores now a barroom brawl
The week's top news
- Shawn McCarthy: Governor's comments raise hope for early Keystone decision
- Tim Kiladze: BMO profit reveals turnaround in U.S. fortunes
- Omar El Akkad: BlackBerry offers new smartphones for diehard fans
- Marina Strauss: Tim Hortons brewing 'bold' changes
- Tim Kiladze: Even after a big quarterly profit, RBC faces growth challenge
- Marina Strauss: How Target missed its mark and lost $1-billion in Canada
- Tim Kiladze: CIBC, TD roar along despite warnings
- Eric Reguly: Standard Life threatens exodus if Scotland leaves U.K.
The week's must-reads
- Geoffrey York: Mechanized mining could revive output in South Africa
- Tara Perkins and Jacqueline Nelson: Sun Life moving away from Bay Street, leading a shift from Toronto's financial district
- Scott Barlow in Inside the Market (for subscribers): How to build a gold-medal investment portfolio
- Joanna Slater: U.S. real estate softens after a resurgent 2013
- Special report on Big Deals: Canada's biggest deal makers getting their swagger back
- Carrie Tait and Jeffrey Jones: Long, cold winter brings relief to gas producers
The week in Business Briefing
- Exxon CEO troubles by fracking-related water tank in his neighbourhood
- Stock rallies as BlackBerry strikes back
- Canada's retirement system praised, but slips in global ranking
- Should you tell a prospective employer if you're pregnant?
- Canadian dollar now fifth most-used world payments currency
The week in Streetwise (for subscribers)
- Tim Kiladze: Canadian banks scramble to diversify amid low rates
- Boyd Erman: A Vision Critical IPO would be a defining moment for Canadian tech
- Jacqueline Nelson: Fairfax not bumping up stake in BlackBerry
- Boyd Erman: A hedge fund legend warns Canadian economy faces 'significant risk'
- Jeffrey Jones: Private equity takes starring role in oil patch
The week in Economy Lab
- Sheryl King: Wage inflation: It's closer than we (and the Fed) think
- Valbona Zeneli: Other countries shouldn't fear an EU-U.S. trade agreement
- David Parkinson: The Roundup: How migrants' remittances provide a crucial lifeline
- Todd Hirsch: Alberta's weak technology spending endangers its future prosperity
The week in ROB Insight (for subscribers)
- Brian Milner: Protectionism will hurt Quebec firms, not save them
- Dave Morris: The next Netflix will suffer thanks to Comcast deal
- Carl Mortished: It's Scotland's oil, and it could be Scotland's burden
- Jeffrey Jones: As the rail safety shift gathers steam, who profits?
- David Parkinson: America's LNG export hopes are running out of gas: analyst