A man samples the bouquet of a glass of Syrian white wine on a stand of the Vinexpo, the world’s biggest wine fair, in Bordeaux, on June 17, 2015. (AFP)

Bordeaux, France (AFP)- The US wine market, already the world’s biggest, still has “phenomenal” potential for growth if handled with care, US wine professionals said this week at the world’s leading wine fair, Vinexpo.

“We are a young thirsty nation,” one expert said, referring to the 370 million cases of wine guzzled in 2014 — 25 percent of them imported — as well as the steady growth in wine consumption in the last two decades, which is expected to see an 11 percent hike between 2014 and 2018.

“Think about it, 370 million cases bought and we only drink about 10 litres per capita. If we were drinking like, say, the UK, it would mean 740 million cases. And if we were drinking like the French, 1.6 billion cases,” said Mel Dick, senior vice-president of the country’s top distributor, Southern Wine and Spirits of America.

“The future of wine in the US is phenomenal,” he added, particularly with 77 million potential new tipplers from “Generation Y” born between 1980 and 2000.