Wine has overtaken beer as Britain's most popular alcoholic drink, research suggests, with supermarkets reporting a surge in sales.

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Wine has overtaken beer as Britain's most popular alcoholic drink, research suggests, with supermarkets reporting a surge in sales of Argentinian red this year.

In a poll, six in 10 people chose wine as their "drink of choice" as middle-class couples increasingly spend evenings at home, rather than in the pub, and throw weekend dinner parties.

More than half of respondents in every region preferred wine when asked their preferred tipple, according to polling firm YouGov.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, which commissioned the research, declared the results as evidence that wine was "no longer just for connoisseurs" and was enjoyed by "all social classes".

However, his assertion that wine had overtaken beer as the nation's favourite drink, based on the 4,000-person poll, were disputed by breweries and pubs.

They reported the first rise in beer sales in a decade, up 1.3 per cent in a year, and referenced tax data showing the amount of beer consumed in November was still 10 per cent higher than wine.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "British beer is back in growth - and we want to keep it that way."

For the first time, more beer was bought in supermarkets and off-licences than sold in pubs, the trade body's figures showed.

More than 10,000 pubs have closed since 2006 as British drinking habits change. Research has shown that as well as consuming less, people are choosing to drink sparkling wine such as Prosecco or a glass of red at home.

Demand for Argentinian wine in particular is soaring at a rate of 35 per cent a year, according to retail analysts Nielson.

Tom Waugh, Tesco's Argentinian wine buyer, said sales were up 70 per cent, prompting the supermarket to extend its range.

"In the last few years there has been a major revival for steak houses which first became popular over here more than 40 years ago, and in particular those from Argentina which are doing well in larger cities across the UK," he said. "This has had a direct effect on helping popularise the country’s wines."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/shopping-and-consumer-news/11381369/Wine-overtakes-beer-as-nations-favourite-drink.html

RFD Press office

Randox Food Diagnostics digital press officer

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