SAN FRANCISCO -- Residents of the District of Columbia drink wine at more than three times the national rate, while people in Arkansas consume the least, a wine trade journal reported Wednesday.

Wine consumption in the nation's capital was 6.59 gallons per capita in 1986, compared with a bit more than half a gallon in Arkansas, according to the journal Wines & Vines.

The average American drank 2.43 gallons of wine last year, the same as the year before. By comparison, according to the California Wine Institute, Portugal is the top wine-drinking country in the world, with about 23 gallons per capita, followed by Italy, 21; France, 20, and Argentina, 16.

The top wine-consuming states are: Nevada, 5.50; California, 4.82; Washington, 3.76; Vermont, 3.65; New Jersey, 3.57; Oregon, 3.40; Massachusetts and Rhode Island, tied at 3.39; and Connecticut, 3.28.

Consumption of hard liquor in the United States fell for the eighth consecutive year in 1986, but beer headed up after a year's decline, said the magazine, which collected figures from a variety of federal, state and industry sources.

The decline in popularity of all alcoholic beverages, with the exception of wine coolers, is attributed by the industry to concerns about health and drunken driving.

The coolers, virtually unknown five years ago, continue phenomenal triple-digit growth among the top producers and last year represented 20.3 percent of all California wine shipments.

If the wine in the coolers wasn't counted, U.S. wine use last year would have been 2.1 gallons per person, an eight-year low and the lowest consumption of any major wine producing nation.

The national average for beer, pegged at 36.2 gallons per capita in 1979, was 34.7 last year. That compared with 37.7 gallons for coffee, including instant and decaffeinated, and 9.7 gallons for tea