UK becomes world's top wine importer

It may not have the largest population, but the United Kingdom now ranks as the top wine importing nation in the world.

Imports topped 1.6 billion bottles in 2007, according to research by ther industry group Vinexpo. The top five suppliers to the UK in order of volume:

• Australia
• France
• United States
• Italy
• Spain

Wines imported from the U.S. increased by 34.5% between 2003 and 2007. France was the only country in the top five which saw a drop, Vinexpo said.

Despite the UK being a big importer, the per-capita amount of wine drunk is well behind that of France (58.8 litres), Italy (56.4 litres) and Switzerland (49.2 litres). The UK is 13th in the world.

The research also covered the sale of spirits in the UK, where vodka came out on top: 96 million bottles were sold in 2007. Consumption of vodka is expected to grow faster than any other spirit with a rise of 20% by 2012.

While overall spirit consumption rose to 336 million bottles in 2007 and is expected to grow by another 6% by 2012, the popularity of Scotch whisky dropped. Consumption fell by just over 11% from 2003 to 2007 and will continue falling by nearly 7% to 2012, the research predicted.

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