Aussies abandoning beer for wine - but not at South Lismore
"WOULD you like a glass of riesling with your Parma, sir?"
That could be the future for Australian drinkers with national wine consumption poised to overtake the long-dominant amber drop, perhaps within a decade.
The latest ABS figures show beer was still king of the drinks in 2011-12 - making up 41% of our alcohol consumption - but wine was hot on its heels at 38%.
The golden carb hit is now at its lowest point in 66 years and wine consumption keeps gathering pace.
In pure alcohol terms, the 69 million litres of wine alcohol available to drinkers in 2011-12 was up 1.9% from 2010-11.
White wine is still the dominant drop, making up almost 50% of all wine on the market compared to red wine at 36%.
At one prominent North Coast retailer, wine now makes up 35-40% of sales and takes up two-thirds of the floor space.
But at South Lismore's The Station Hotel, beer's status as the drink of choice remains unchallenged.
It's the largest non-franchise wine cellar in town but manager Jeremy Williams put down any notions of a changing of the guard.
"We're unique over here," Mr Williams said.
"Our business is 46% beer and 12% wine. The majority of women drink wine, but men still drink beer; what they've grown up with."
Even so, the South Lismore landmark regularly sees 30-40 punters turning out to their wine tastings on the first Wednesday of every month.
Behind the wider shift, Mr Williams cited the growing popularity of mellow wines aged under two years which are also less expensive.
"Basically wine is cheaper now than it was 10 years ago - you can buy a bottle for $4.99."
"The majority of wines now you can just drink with anything."
But the competition between wine and beer may just be a sideshow.
The preferred drink to have with your favourite pub meal might be a glass of mineral water, with national alcohol consumption on the slide for two straight years.
JEREMY'S MOST POPULAR DROPS (after beer)
1. SA and WA Semi Sav Blancs
2. NZ Sav Blancs
3. SA and WA Shiraz
4. Merlot and Cab Sav
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