British drinkers are falling out of love with wine and turning to cider, beer and spirits instead, The Grocer's second annual ranking of Britain's 100 Biggest Alcohol Brands can reveal.

With 42 entries, there were more wine brands than any other type of drink on the list but their combined sales were down 4.3% by volume in the year to 14 May. Value sales were flat, up just 0.2%.

The slump cannot be blamed on Britons cutting back on alcohol to save money in the difficult economic climate. All the other drink categories posted impressive volume and value growth figures.

The spirits brands were up 5% in volume and 9.1% in value. Beer brands posted a 2.7% increase in volume sales, with value up 4.4%. And cider proved even more popular, up 7.5% by volume and 6% by value.

Experts blamed the fall in wine sales on a mix of unfavourable exchange rates, duty hikes and price rises caused by supply shortages.

"Half a million households have left the wine category in the last year they just can't afford it," said Matthew Dickinson, commercial director at wine importer Thierry's.

biggest risers and fallers (sales)
Biggest rise (%) 
Crabbie's +249.4 

Biggest rise (£) 
Echo Falls +47.6m 

Biggest fall (%) StellaArtois 4% 29.7 

Biggest fall (£) 
First Cape 29.4m
A Morrisons spokesman added: "Recession has led to a reduction in spending on perceived luxury items and wine can fall into that category."

High-profile casualties included Lindeman's and Rosemount with volume sales down 21% and 14.8% respectively. Dan Townsend, general manager UK and Ireland at owner Treasury Wine Estates, blamed market conditions and an over-reliance on deals, which were encouraging shoppers to buying wine only on promotion.

"Deep price promotions have devalued the whole wine market," he said. "An industry focused on price rather than quality isn't sustainable."

However, there were some success stories. After just making last year's top 100, Spanish cava Freixenet has climbed to 66th this year thanks to a 45.6% value sales hike. And sales of GCF Group's Calvet brand new to the top 100 this year soared 72.6%, to £28.8m, with volumes up 68.6%.

The UK's biggest booze brand for the second year running was Stella Artois. Stella recorded sales of £527.6m and although this was down 0.3%, with volume falling 5%, it was still a long way ahead of second-placed Foster's, which had £397.4m of sales.

Stella Artois 4%, however, saw value fall by almost 30% and volume by 35.8%. Owner AB InBev said much of this was due to it focusing promotional activity on sister brand Budweiser.