Americans are for the first time showing a preference for wine over beer, according to a Gallup poll. The survey showed 39% of US drinkers usually consume wine, with 36% drinking beer. In 1992, the figures were 27% and 47%, respectively. A total of 63% of Americans said they drink alcohol.

Wine's gain comes at beer's loss. Although beer remains a favourite among almost half of adults between 18 and 29, that figure slipped over the past decade as those preferring spirits more than doubled to 32%.

The number of 30- to 49-year-olds who consume beer also fell from 48% in the early 1990s to 40% as more switched to wine or spirits. The percentage of beer drinkers over 50 held steady at 30% as wine drinkers grew to 45%; spirits was the loser in this category.

Sex and ethnicity were also important, as more men and minorities switched from beer to wine, Gallup said.