According to CGA data, total wine volumes were down 2 per cent last year, with value down 13 per cent. Interestingly, it was white wine and rose that lost out over the last 12 months, with volumes down 4 per cent for both categories and value down 16 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. In contrast, red wine volumes increased 3 per cent and value dropped by a less dramatic 7 per cent.
Switch to cocktails
One major trend affecting the wine sector – which could also explain why red wine is suddenly outperforming white wine and rose – is the growing popularity of cocktails.
Phil Tate, chief operating officer at CGA Strategy, says that cocktails have become increasingly accessible and are tapping into the consumer desire for innovation, theatre of serve and premiumisation.
“Cocktails have really come in and stolen a march from the wine homelands,” he says. “The most popular cocktail flavours at the moment are more fruit and berry flavours, which is similar to what we were seeing a few years ago with a move into fruitier roses and chardonnays.”
Within the wine category itself, sparkling wine was the stand-out performer last year. According to CGA data, sparkling wine sales were up 11 per cent last year, outperforming champagne – which saw more modest growth of 2 per cent.
Maria Ines Pina, marketing manager for Moet Hennessy Estates and Wines, says that sparkling wine feeds into the consumer desire for premium, but is a more affordable option than champagne.
“Sparkling wine gives consumers a celebratory feel, but without the formality often associated with, champagne,” says Maria Ines Pina, marketing manager for Moet Hennessy Estates and Wines.
“Sparkling wine can be more casual, more of an everyday drink, without having to save it for a special occasion.”
She adds that when it comes to sparkling wine, people are still looking for quality, but ‘perhaps less complexity’ than you would see in champagne, and an ‘easier drinking style’.
CGA data also shows the gap between old world and new world wine performance has continued to widen in the on-trade, with France, Italy and Spain all recording an increase and the USA, Australia, Chile, NZ and Argentina experiencing ‘significant’ year-on-year declines.
However, there are signs that consumers are becoming more adventurous with wine, and a recent report from D&D restaurants revealed that its New Street Wine Shop has seen a big interest in wine from lesser-known regions such as Brazil, Turkey and Uruguay.
“Certainly a new dawn is approaching for certain upcoming producing countries,” says Broadfoot. “Even five years ago the likes of Croatia and China were barely spoken of in terms of providing UK drinkers with a credible alternative, but now, and I think the London Wine Fair country pavilions representing them underlines this, they are looking set to stay and can only get more popular as consumer thirst for discovery deepens.”
As with other alcohol sectors, there has been some growth in smaller scale, artisan wines which is driving consumer interest. According to CGA, the big brands in wine continue to drive the top-line figures but they are actually in decline, while smaller brands are enjoying ‘healthy growth’ in the on-trade.
“There is an increasing interest in producers, with an emphasis on authenticity and artisan products,” says Ruth Spivey, founder of wine bar pop-up Street Vin. “Younger people in particular are more engaged than ever, and are receptive to experimenting and taking advice.”
This also led to increasing interest in provenance, with English wines coming to the fore- particularly in the sparkling wine sector. “There has been a marked increase in the availability of English Sparkling wine over recent years, and the English wine industry has just announced a record breaking harvest for 2013,” says Broadfoot. “Sparkling wine now accounts for around two thirds of England’s total production.”