Cheers! Boozy Brits drank a record 140 MILLION bottles of fizz in 2017

We drank the equivalent of 140 million bottles of fizz – another record year.

The figure is up 12 per cent on 2016 and a massive 65 million more bottles than in 2013.

Prosecco takes up the lion’s share of the UK sparkling wine market.

But English fizz producers are giving the Italians a run for their money, says the Wine and Spirits Trade Association.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “Sparkling wine is incredibly popular in the UK with sales booming over the last five years.

“However, there are signs of sales slowing and if Brexit gets in the way of trade coinciding with a bad harvest this could be damaging for the wine industry. 

“It is essential for both sides of the channel to ensure the UK strikes a free trade deal with the EU so trade is not unnecessarily disrupted. 

“The UK is the EU’s number one market for volume wine exports after Germany and in return Britain is the largest exporter spirits in the world – 42 per cent of exports goes to Europe. 

“We need government to make progress on a trade deal to give the wine and spirit industry some stability in 2018.”

Sparkling wine sales have been rocketing since 2013 and topped the £1 billion mark for the first time in 2015.

But the outlook is not so bubbly for 2018, says experts.

Late spring frosts and summer droughts in Europe have resulted in lower yields in 2017.

Combined with economic factors, Prosecco and other imported sparkling wines may be in short supply next year.

Ciaran Myles, research and insights manager at the WSTA said: “It’s safe to say there is no bursting of any bubbles according to sales figures for sparkling wine, although they are not quite as lofty as they once were. (correct)

“If you compare this year to the previous two years growth for total industry volume sales of sparkling wine were about 15 per cent in 2015, 10 per cent in 2016 and it’s looking like single digits for this year. 

“Reports of lower yields from the slopes of Northern Italy, inflation and all the complications that come with Brexit, volumes of sparkling wine might go a little flat in 2018.

“But the UK sparkling wine market is well placed to weather tough times.”

Added to sales of Champagne, the UK sparkling wine market is worth mover than £2 billion.

In 2016, there were 503 commercial vineyards registered in England and Wales and 133 registered wine producers.

The south of England’s chalky soils and climate are similar to that found in the Champagne region of France meaning Britain has ideal conditions to make sparkling wine is made in the traditional method, says WSTA.

The success of these wines has led Champagne houses, like Taittinger and Pommery, buying land and investing in vineyards in the UK.