The British are turning into the world's most enthusiastic wine drinkers, a survey has found.

Sixty-four per cent of Britons are wine drinkers, compared to 65 per cent of the French, according to market analysts Mintel. And while sales of wine in the UK went up by 4.1 per cent last year, in France sales dropped by 3.2 per cent. The average French person now consumes 53 litres of wine a year, down from 91 litres in 1980.

At the same time, average consumption of wine in Britain has gone from 7.7 litres each in 1981, to 22 litres last year.

But those French who drink, are still drinking more than their counterparts across the Channel. The proportion of heavy drinkers – defined as drinking three or more bottles a month – is still a great deal higher in France, where the figure is 47.8%, compared with 36.2% in Britain.

The report is based on surveys with 25,000 people in Britain and 10,000 each in France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Written by Adam Lechmere4 July 2002