Sales of sparkling wine in the UK are set to increase by more than 20% over the next three years, while red wine purchases will drop by nearly 5%, according to new research.

Rosé sales will rise by nearly 50%, white wine sales by over 7%.

The findings of the survey, carried out by the International Wine & Spirits Record on behalf of Vinexpo, the wine fair held in Bordeaux every two years, paint a remarkably optimistic picture given the general malaise hanging over the UK wine industry and the state of the economy.

By volume, wine consumption in the UK is predicted to increase by 6.87%, from 145.1m cases in 2008 to 155m by 2012.

By value, the increase is estimated to be 7.25%.

The UK will remain the world’s biggest wine importer, with imports topping 135.8m cases in 2007. Between 2003 and 2007 wine drinking in the UK increased by 12%.

Consumption in the UK will rise to 143.9m cases in 2012, an increase of 5.9%.

And although red wine consumption in the UK is expected to fall by 4.57% between 2008 and 2012 (57.2m cases, down from 60m), rosé sales should rise by nearly 50%, from 12.5m cases to 18.45m. White wine consumption is also predicted to climb, from 63.7m cases to 68.6, an increase of 7.7%.

Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat said past experience indicated that the recession may not seriously affect wine sales.

‘This study was made at the end of last year, when the crisis was not so evident, but even so, we have seen these crises before, and the effect on wine consumption was not so high.’

The Italians will overtake France to become the biggest drinkers of wine per capita, at 56.4 litres a head.

Iin terms of volume, the US will become the biggest wine-drinking nation by 2012, with 313.8m cases drunk.

Globally, wine consumption is expected to increase by 6%, with 2.8bn cases consumed by 2012.

Beynat, who attributed the positive figures – especially in white wine – to an emergence of younger wine drinkers, added: ‘The world is drinking more, and the world is drinking better. The world will not stop drinking wine.’

Written by Stuart Peskett