Australian wine is very soon going to be the second-favourite choice of Britons when they dine out – threatening to end France's supremacy on restaurant wine lists.

Australia has been nudging at France’s domination of the supermarket shelves for over a year, and now industry analyst AC Nielsen predicts it is threatening France in the on-trade (pubs and restaurants) as well.

According to the latest figures, in three years Australian wine will be the number one choice in the UK off-trade (bottle shops and supermarkets) in volume terms, and in terms of value of wine bought in the off-trade, Australia will take pole position much sooner than that.

‘Australia and France are virtually neck and neck,’ Nielsen’s Chris Hipkiss told a press conference at the Australia Day Tastings in London today.

And now Nielsen figures predict Australian wine is becoming more and more popular with those eating out.

‘It is the second fastest-growing country in the on-trade,’ Hipkiss said. At present French wine is distributed in 73% of UK restaurants and other such outlets. Germany comes second, in 67% of outlets, and Australia is third, in 43% of outlets.

But according to Hipkiss, Australia is set to oust Germany in second place within months.

‘It’s a long way behind France but in the next couple of months it will be number two,’ he said.

The prediction is based on year-on-year increase in volume sold to UK outlets. It is understood that German wines occupy a disproportionately high position because of their popularity in working men’s clubs and pubs in the north of the country.

Hipkiss also told the conference that the fastest-growing countries in the UK trade were the ones with more expensively-priced wines – for example New Zealand – and that consumers were willing to spend relatively more on wine than before.

Written by Adam Lechmere29 January 2002