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Recent Changes in UK Wine Trends

Posted: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 17:21

Recent Changes in UK Wine Trends

There seems to be a shift in the taste of Brits who drank 20 million more bottles of Chablis, Chianti and Rioja and wines from other old world countries, after a decade of falling sales, with New Zealand and Chile also gaining foothold at the cost of American wines and the stagnating Australian imports, according to a study by AC Nielsen for sales during the past 12 months.

Growth has been particularly strong for Spain and Italy- both gained 10%, with a combined increase in sales of US$152 million, during the last half of 2009 and first half of 2010, according to AC Nielsen's figures. France lost 2 % sales during this one-year period.

New Zealand is one of the few new world countries to make big gains, as European wines staged a comeback against the blockbuster Australian and American wines. British drinkers bought US $390 million worth of New Zealand wines in the year to May 15, an increase of 35 per cent, market research reveals. Helped by the Sauvignon Blanc, the country added a whopping US$ 101 million to the sales.

The other gainer from the new world has been Chile, which added US$138 million of sales, taking it to US$ 735 million during the 12 month period.

New world wine superpowers Australia and the US, which have dominated the UK trade with big brands, bold and powerful fruity, young wines selling at low prices, did not do as well though. Although Australian wines sold more at US$1.74 billion, the increase in sale of barely US $11 million resulted in the reduced market share of  21.2 %.The US fared even worse in terms of market share, slipping by US$ 36 million to US$1.210 billion, with 5.3 million less bottles and losing 6 % of its market share.

A range of factors are behind the revival of interest in Europe's vineyards, say experts. Changes in exchange rates across various currencies have also influenced the current trend, howsoever temporary. The Australian dollar being at 28-year high but Euro and NZ dollars being relatively low - have also made European and NZ wines more affordable, according to the report in New Zealand Herald.

Julian Dyer, senior wine buyer for Sainsbury's, said: "We are seeing a stronger growth in Italian and French wines, rather than most new world countries, and that's a complete reversal of the trends we've seen for the last 10 years.  This is partly also because there's a resurgence of interest in the old-fashioned, classic wines."

Retailers are concentrating on making old world wines rather easy to buy with labels detailing the grapes used and the resulting flavour.

Simon Field, a fine-wine expert at the London merchant Berry Brothers, said that while the likes of Jacob's Creek, Blossom Hill and Gallo remained popular with British drinkers, old world winemakers had been able to borrow some of the new world's techniques such as stainless steel vats, to enhance consistency, without losing the complexity and elegance of the fruit from old vines.


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