British drinkers are to consume more sparkling wine than any other country in the world by 2016, according to the latest data from Vinexpo.
The research, in collaboration with The International Wine and Spirits Research, found that by 2016, Brits will be drinking over 126 million bottles a year of Champagne, cava, Prosecco, homegrown fizz and other sparkling wine.
The predicted increase places the UK in the top spot for sparkling wine imports, pushing previous leader Germany into third place behind the US.
France currently leads the pack in terms of sparkling wine imported into the UK at 37m bottles a year, followed by Spain at 25m, Italy at 19m, Australia at 8.5m and South Africa at 2.5m.
“UK drinkers are changing their behaviour. They are drinking less but spending more on better wine.
“The UK remains a major force in world wine business,” said Vinexpo’s chief executive Robert Beynat.
The study also found that Britain is set to double its consumption of English sparkling wine to 5.7m bottles by 2016, marking a 342% rise in volume sales since 2007.
White wine is also set to get its moment in the sun, with Vinexpo predicting it to overtake red wine for the first time in terms of volume sales, accounting for 45% of all wine drunk in the UK in 2016.
Volume and value sales of Spanish wine are up in the UK
On the flip side, consumption of still wine in the UK is in long-term decline, with sales expected to fall by 4.7% to 120 million cases by 2016.
Despite the decline, the UK is still the world’s largest retail market for imported still wine by value, with sales of wine over £10 predicted to increase by 13.8% to 30m cases by 2016.
In terms of wine imports into the UK, Spain emerged triumphant, with year-on-year volume sales up 21.8%.
Beynat put the dramatic increase in consumption of Spanish wine down to the proliferation of Spanish small plates restaurants and tapas bars across the UK.
He also noted that as consumption of Spanish wine within Spain was decreasing, producers were continuing to place greater emphasis on their export markets.