As we approach the end of the decade, leading merchant Bibendum has released its top drinks trend predictions for 2020, based on data gathered from some of the merchant's leading client venues.
Bibendum’s 2020 Trends Report concerns the whole of the drinks industry, spanning from wine and spirits, to beer and cocktails. But which of these are really likely to take off?
Austria, regional Spain and South America
When compared to spirits and mixers, the wine world always seems to move at a much slower pace, so predicting its trends isn’t an easy task.
This might explain why South America, one of Bibendum's predictions for 2019, is once again featured in the 2020 report. This time however, the merchant believes that consumers will be willing to explore alternative regions, such as Uruguay, Patagonia and Bolivia, as well as lesser-known grapes (eg Bonarda and Tannat).
Admittedly, we've seen more than one merchant upping its Uruguayan game over the past 12 months – and we do believe that alternative South-American regions will get more traction – but it’s unlikely they’ll become mainstream anytime soon.
On the other hand, we agree with Bibendum that there’s good potential for Austria and Spain’s lesser known regions to be featured more on British wine lists.
Back in May we reported that Prosecco rosé is expected to become a reality as of 2020 vintage. Should this happen, Bibendum says it will ‘fly off the shelves’.
Do you really need us to comment on it? Just start ordering a new fridge, will you? A large one.
Natural wine, says Bibendum, has come of age, so we will be seeing more and more of it, and better quality.
In our opinion, the overall quality of so-called 'natural' wines has already improved significantly. However, in line with Bibendum's report, we expect consolidation in the market over the next 12 months.
The merchant also claims that the 'natural' trend will trickle into craft beer, with brewers ‘beginning to experiment with "wild" or "spontaneous" fermentation’. Once again, we do expect to see a significant number of ‘wild-fermented’ beer in 2020, however, they are far from being new to the category.
Spirits and mixers
Drinks from the far east
According to Bibendum, we’ll be seeing more drinks hailing from or influenced by Japan, China, Korea and South East Asia. These will include saké and other cocktail-worthy liqueurs, spirits and ingredients.
We can’t deny that Japan has proven itself hugely influential on the UK’s drinks industry, with the on-trade's ever increasing interest in saké, Japanese whisky and even citrus fruits to use in cocktails. Overall however, the influence of other far-eastern drinks cultures is yet to make its mark on the UK scene. That said, a bottle of Essex-made baijiu landed on our desks last week, just sayin'…
The UK hasn't seen much of it yet, but last summer, hard seltzers have taken the US by storm, which even led to a stock shortage of the best-selling brand, White Claw. The drink’s appeal lies in it being a low-calorie and low-sugar drink, as well as carrying what the American market perceives as low abv (normally between 4% and 6%).
The hard seltzer category has certainly some potential in the UK, though we aren’t sure its 4% abv-6% abv is 'low' enough for British consumers to fall in love with it.
Whether it’s beer, wine or spirits, Bibendum claims that sustainable packaging will keep being top of the agenda, and Imbibe couldn’t agree more. The UK’s first wine canning line is still fresh on our news feed, Vinventions has just announced it will launch a grape-based stopper, and earlier in October Carlsberg revealed its plans to implement a wholly recyclable paper bottle. Just to mention a few...
No & low to branch out to new categories
We definitely agree: day after day, an increasing number of these products land on our desks, so we’re bound to see more. (Incidentally, we've partnered with the WSET for an evening entirely focused on innovation within the no and low category, check it out here if you wish to attend).
The no and low beer category will develop further too, as Bibendum says, with more no- and low-only breweries due to open and more expressions being available on draft.
An extra touch of caffeine
Bibendum expects coffee to reinforce its influence within the wider ‘craft’ drinks sector, with more beer, spirits and RTDs made using cold brew, guarana seeds and coffee beans (either roasted or green). Coffee beans have long been a familiar sight in British UK’s craft breweries, yet we agree that there’s room for more coffee-inspired hybrids to hit the market in 2020.
Lastly, Bibendum predicts that 2020 will be the year of ‘hard coffee RTDs', a trend they say that is ‘already gaining traction in the US’. A deadly combination of alcohol and caffeine? Why not?