MIDDLE class professionals think they know better than health experts and drink wine most nights to show they are “sophisticated,” researchers have found.

Like the traditional drinker, who drank heavily on a weekend after a week of manual labour, drinking wine all week was deemed suitable in the 1970s, 80s and 90s for the middle classes.

However, while much publicity in recent years has surrounded weekend binge drinking, little attention has been paid to wine drinking at home among the middle classes.

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The research led by academics at Sunderland University also emphasises the middle-classes overlook public health messages because they do not portray drinking wine at home as a major issue.

While some home drinkers drank wine to appear sophisticated, the research showed the “traditional” alcohol drinker did so mainly to socialise and often to get drunk.

The research, which discussed alcohol with five North-East groups aged between 21 and 55, compared those who regularly drink at home with the “traditional” drinkers.

Those drinking wine at home thought it portrayed a “respectable and sophisticated” family life and criticised those who went binge drinking in pubs, but viewed drinking wine regularly as “unproblematic”.

The researchers called for public health messages to be overhauled because they do not target those who drink at home.

Dr Lyn Brierley-Jones, research fellow at Sunderland University, said: “These drinkers don’t see their drinking pattern as an issue or problematic and ignore health warnings. This is despite the fact regular drinking could lead to significant health problems later in life and become a major health burden for the NHS.”

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, North East Alcohol Office, said: “It’s a common misconception that the only people who suffer alcohol-related health problems are alcoholics or binge drinkers – this is far from the truth.”