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British set to be biggest wine spenders in Europe

UK drinkers are predicted to become the biggest European spenders on wine within the next three years.

By 2010 retail sales are forecast to hit nearly £5.5 billion in the UK, according to global research commissioned by Vinexpo, the Bordeaux-based wine and spirits fair. If this happens, it means the British will be spending more on wine and sparkling wine than the French, Italian and Germans – the current top-three spenders on wine in Europe.

The growth in UK sales is a long-term trend explained not only by rises in the amount of wine drunk, but also by the trend to drink better quality wines and by the UK’s high tax on alcohol.

Annual average wine consumption is forecast to grow at 3.7% in the 10 years from 2001 -2010, which would be three and a half times faster than the growth in world consumption, says the study, which was conducted by drinks researchers IWSR. In spite of this, British drinkers will still drink less wine in total that the world’s top four – France, Italy, the USA and Germany.

In 2005, the year that was studied for the survey, British drinkers consumed nearly 1.7 billion bottles of wine, equivalent to nearly 27 litres per person. This is roughly the same as Australia (28.3 litres) and Holland (28.6 litres) but a long way behind Denmark (38.3 litres) and Germany (36.6 litres). This rate of growth will slow in the run up to 2010, when it’s predicted that consumption will reach 28.5 litres per head. This is equivalent to 38 bottles a year - or less than five glasses a week.

Red wine accounted for just over half of all the wine drunk in 2005, with British drinkers increasing consumption of it by more than 35% between 2001 and 2005. However, the UK’s current passion for rosé is shown by the fact that consumption of this has grown by more than 63% over the same period and is forecast to rise by 25% by 2010.