Opinion: Trade reacts to wine trends report

Gaëlle Laforest

09 November 2015

Wine trends show economic positivity in the UK, according to the latest Wine Intelligence UK Landscapes 2015 Report.

Findings released today showed that drinkers are drinking wine in formal restaurants more often, but also in bars and pubs – where they're spending 21% more on a bottle than they did two years ago.

Sparkling wine is also shown to be a category in growth - prosecco in particular. The Italian sparkler has gained four million consumers since 2013.

All that is carried partly by the growth in young drinkers. Under-35s make up a quarter of wine drinkers, according to the report, and are making more 'adventurous' choices.

That's in brief – read our full story on the report. Meanwhile, we talked to the on-trade to see if these findings resonated with what they'd been experiencing in their venues.

'More and more young wine drinkers are choosing interesting, artisanal wines on their own'
David Clawson, co-owner of The Remedy, London
: 'Both our selection of grower champagnes and other sparkling wines sell well, although prosecco certainly leads the way since we almost always have one by the glass. In addition, to illustrate [the] point about more adventurous drinkers, our prosecco (Malibran Sottoriva) is the very opposite of the mass-produced commercial variety; it comes from a very small winery who farms organically, uses no additives (and minimal SO2), ferments the prosecco in the bottle, and does not fine or filter (so the wine is actually a bit cloudy). Our customers love it.

'More and more young wine drinkers are choosing interesting, artisanal wines on their own, including so called "natural" and "orange" wines. Of course we are passionate about them as well so naturally we recommend them often. Still we have definitely noticed a greater awareness of these wines.'

'Customers feel safe ordering prosecco when dining out'
Virgile Degrez, head sommelier at German Gymnasium, London
: '[The report] certainly reflects the consumer patterns and behaviours we see in our restaurants daily. It was really interesting to read how well prosecco is doing. I believe there is a direct correlation between what is available on supermarket shelves and what’s ordered in restaurants. Prosecco, as well as grape varieties such as Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc are extremely popular also due to the fact they are easy to find in shops. They are widely known and customers feel safe ordering them when dining out. At the same time, I agree that there are more and more "adventurous drinkers". Foodies and wine lovers in the UK and, particularly, London, are more open-minded and keen to experiment.'

'Under 35s are the most adventurous; although they do hit trends hard'
Gus Gluck, assistant manager at Vinoteca King's Cross
: 'The numbers on this report are absolutely astounding if not predictable. From a Vinoteca point of view it’s extremely interesting because it has not really affected sales of other wine, let alone other sparkling wine; instead a new consumer is drinking prosecco. I believe they would have normally been drinking a G&T, an alcopop or the cheapest glass of wine. Instead they treat sparkling in the same way that champagne brands itself: as a drink of celebration.

'I now hear customers say: “I like prosecco more than champagne”, “I like prosecco because it is dry”, and “I’d rather have prosecco”. This shows that people are using the language of “safety”, this being that prosecco is their “safe” option when going out. It also shows that there is almost next to no training or consumer knowledge on it because [consumers] treat it like a brand. Lastly it shows their abject loyalty, which I can challenge in my setting, but supermarkets cannot.

'The report is right that [under 35s] are the most adventurous. We in particular see it in our wine shop; although they do hit trends hard: a lot come in now asking for ‘low intervention’ and ‘natural’ wines, which are ambiguous by the nature of their language (all winemaking is intervention, all agriculture is intervention, and natural as a word seems oppressive). In general it’s nice to see more consumers who want to try something new.

'It will be interesting to see how these new consumers shape the wine buying in the future. I am hoping for a situation in which I will be asked regularly to try something new, something interesting or something delicious.'

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