The stereotypical image of a rugged Australian cracking open a tinny in the outback could soon be a thing of the past with wine sales Down Under set to overtake beer within a decade.
The consumption of beer has dropped by almost half to its lowest level in 50 years while wine sales have increased three fold during the same period, a report compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown.
"Over the past 50 years, the level of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages has changed substantially," concluded the report, entitled "No Longer a Nation of Beer Drinkers".
It found beer accounted for just 44 per cent of all alcohol consumed by Australians in the 2008-2009 financial year down from a peak of 76 per cent in 1960-61.
Statistics suggest that in the year ending June 2009 Australians drank 107 litres of beer per adult - an average of 3. 6 pints a week - down from 190 litres or 6,4 pints a week on average, 50 years ago.
Wine consumption has increased threefold over the same time, from 12 to 36 per cent, a fact attributed to the growth of the Australian wine industry, an increasing sophistication in the palates of Australians and a rise in the number of women drinkers, who generally prefer wine to beer.
Savanth Sebastian, an economist with CommSec, said the death knell had sounded for the stereotypical beer-swilling Aussie.
"We are seeing a shift from beer to wine. If the trend continues, in the next decade wine will pass beer," he said.
Cultural exports such as Sir Lesley Patterson, the foul mouthed character portrayed by Barry Humphries have reinforced Australia's reputation as a nation of lager lovers.
Australian cricketer David Boon, who legend has it, once consumed 52 cans of lager on a flight between Sydney and London.