White wine loses to red

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RED WINE has overtaken white as the most popular in Britain after sales rose 76.3 per cent in four years. Health experts believe drinkers are turning to red because it can reduce the risk of contracting heart disease.

Dr Avijit Lahiri, a consultant cardiologist at Northwick Park Hospital, Middlesex, said: "It tastes better and people are conscious that it can reduce the chances of heart problems later in life."

A report by the market analysts Euromonitor said the value of red wine sales rose 76.3 per cent in the past four years, accounting for 40.6 per cent of UK wine consumption. White wine now makes up 39.4 per cent of the market. In 1994, the first year the report covered, white wine led the market with 49.9 per cent of sales, while red had 31.9 per cent.

But pub-goers are also deserting traditional drinks such as beer, which has seen sales plummet by 5.3m barrels a year since 1980. Clive Deacon, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale said: "People are more tuned in to the health angle, which is why people are drinking more wine. There is so much publicity about how red wine can help your heart."

In the UK, 687m litres of wine were consumed last year compared with 589.5 litres in 1994.Sales are valued at pounds 4.3bn compared with pounds 3bn in 1994. Britons are drinking 85m cases of wine a year with the average consumer getting through 22 bottles in 12 months.