Britons for the first time are drinking more American wine than French, thanks to slick marketing and a growing British penchant for Californian rose, a market study revealed Tuesday.
Shop sales of US wine grew by five percent to 786 million pounds (873 million euros, 1.2 billion dollars) in the 12 months to November, while French wine sales fell three percent to 779 million pounds.
Stewart Blunt, of market analysts Nielsen, said US wines were stealing a march as British winebuyers began to turn away from cheaper French wine.
"The bottom has fallen out of the under-three-pound sector," he told AFP.
"In all wine, and in French wine, the over-five-pound sector is in quite good growth but that growth is not enough to offset the loss of the cheaper end of the market."
The US market has stolen a march because "the branding's right", Nielsen said, pointing to brands such as Gallo and Blossom Hill which are backed by advertising campaigns.
"People understand brands and they purchase branded wines now, whereas French wines can still be a little intimidating to drinkers who are not that familiar with wine."
The other factor was the growing popularity of rose wine.
"Rose wines have been driving growth in the wine market and obviously a lot of those come from California, giving the US extra push," Blunt said.
Malcolm Gluck, a British wine writer, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "No-one would have believed you if you said 20 years ago that America would outsell France.
"But it's a sign of how much the wine market has changed."
However, both US and French wine trail behind Australian wine which tops the charts for the fifth consecutive year with sales of about 1.1 billion pounds, the Daily Telegraph said.
French wine does however maintain its dominance in pubs and restaurants, where its sales totalled 754 million pounds in the year up to October, while the American product has room to grow at 269 million pounds.