The United States was within the top five nations in wine production, wine consumption by country, and vineyard acreage in 1998, but it was a different story for per capita consumption of wine.

Americans sipped less than two gallons, putting the nation firmly in 33rd place, just ahead of Uzbekistan, and far behind citizens of Luxembourg, who consumed at a rate of more than 18.5 gallons per person.

That's according to statistics recently released by the Wine Institute in San Francisco. They are from data collected by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) in Paris, France.

In wine production, Italy was first with just over 1.43 billion gallons, or nearly 11 percent less than its average for 1991-95. France was second with 1.39 billion gallons, just a fraction down from its five-year average.

Third place Spain, however, with 801 million gallons, was nearly 15 percent higher than its average. The U.S., with 540 million gallons and fourth place, showed a healthy 16 percent gain on its average.

In wine consumption by country, France was first with 938 million gallons, Italy second with 845 million. Both were down from their averages, but the U.S., third with 526 million, posted a nearly 14 percent gain on its five-year average.

The U.S. vineyard acreage of 899,000 was fifth on the world scene and up 13 percent from its 1991-95 average but still well behind the 2.9 million acres of Spain, and 2 million-plus acreages of France and Italy.

In per capita consumption, Luxembourg's hefty score represented a gain of nearly 21 percent on the nation's five-year average of some 15 gallons. In 33rd place, the U.S. was midway among the 66 nations listed.

Despite its low ranking, U.S. per capita consumption picked up more than 9 percent on its five-year average. In 32nd place, Canada's per capita score was 2.19 gallons, a significant jump over its five-year average of 1.7 gallons.

Latvia was lowest at zero, a sharp drop from its 1997 level of just above 1.5 gallons.

Wine Institute officials said no values are available on any of the categories reported. OIV used responses from governments of its 45-nation membership and from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. OIV may revise certain data later.

The reports do not indicate, on a global basis, the amount of grapes for wine, raisin, fresh, concentrate, or distillation utilizations.