Consumption of alcohol in Britain increased by 5% between 1999 and 2004 according to new research from Mintel. In the same period, consumption fell by 6% in France and by 8% in Germany.

Britons are becoming more sophisticated in their tastes, too, with a 23% increase noted in wine consumption compared with France - land of Burgundy and Beaujolais - where wine consumption fell by 4%. In Germany, wine sales rose by 4% - hardly enough to have the Riesling producers jumping for joy.

As surprising as wine sales slipping in France, the German nation also appears to be losing some of its famed enthusiasm for beer. Mintel reports a 10% decline in beer consumption in the Fatherland between 1999-2004. In Britain, the sector stayed static.

Overall, 88% of Britons had consumed an alcoholic drink in the previous 12 months, according to Mintel, compared to 86% in France and 70% in Germany.