Spain's per-capita wine consumption fell by almost 7% last year, hurt by a steep drop in on-trade sales, just-drinks learnt today (16 March).

Spaniards drank 8.3% less wine in the restaurant, café and hotel channel while retail sales fell 0.8%, according top wine federation Federacion Espanola del Vino (FEV). In all, Spaniards drank 24.9 litres of wine in 2006, down 6.9% on 2005.

Cava and fermented-wine sales rose 1.1% in the supermarket channel but fell 1.2% in the restaurant circuit.

FEV chief executive Rafael Del Rey said the drop in restaurant sales stemmed from rising wine prices, new anti-smoking laws - which are said to repress alcohol drinking - and tougher drunk-driving legislation.

However, Del Rey said the industry and the Spanish government are working to tackle the problem. Under the so-called plan de choque, the industry will work to promote wine with Spanish consumers and teach restaurant staff more efficient selling techniques.

"We hope sales will rise substantially this year," Del Rey said.

Last month, alcohol producers in Spain received a boost when the country's government postponed plans to restrict alcohol advertising.

Spain shelved a law that was looking to curb advertising of beverage alcohol to help fight under-age drinking in the country. The Spanish government had put the plans on hold after failing to reach a compromise with wine industry officials.