Consumers in the UK spent an estimated £7.24bn on wines in 1999, representing a 27.9% share of the overall expenditure on alcoholic drinks. Beer remains the largest drinks market, but wine has overtaken spirits and liqueurs. Unlike the other drinks, wines are almost entirely imported into the UK. Traditionally, the country or region of origin was the characteristic that defined the wine market – Champagne and fine wines from France, with cheaper wines coming from Spain, Italy or Germany. However, during the 1990s, imports were broadened out, with the New World wineries in Australia and California mainly responsible for the increase in choice, and the threat to the Old World. Eastern Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and even South American countries have also contributed.

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