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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February 2005, 16:44 GMT
UK 'to be biggest wine consumer'
Man drinking wine
Britons are switching from beer to more 'stylish' wine
Britons are set to become Europe's biggest spenders on wine, with UK consumption set to outstrip even France within four years, says a new report.

In 2003 Britons quaffed 5bn worth of wine, which is set to rise to 6bn by 2008 making the UK the second biggest wine consumer globally after the US.

Between 1999 and 2003 the amount of wine Britons drank grew 21.5 %, says wine exhibition organiser Vinexpo.

Chief executive Robert Beynat said the UK had the attention of the industry.

"The world of wine and spirits is undergoing revolutionary changes and the market that everyone is watching is the UK," he said.

Indeed, while the UK consumed around 1.5 billion bottles in 2003, by 2008 UK drinkers are expected to be drinking 1.74 billion bottles a year.

Many have abandoned the traditional pint of beer in favour of the more "stylish" wine, say experts. Beer consumption has fallen by 20% in the last 25 years.

This has in part been caused by the flourishing market for Australian and other New World wines.

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