The most politically uncertain Christmas and New Year break for decades lies before us, so as we raise a glass to the end of 2018, it’s worth looking at how our drinks lists be affected in the coming year.
UK specialist Majestic analysis of emerging trends aims to put some clarity into the calendar… from a drinks perspective at least.
Sticky memories of German wine in a blue glass for those over 30 could be about to change. 2018 has been a turning point year, with German wine sales along with those from close neighbour Austria, up 63% at Majestic. The retailer sees this upward trend continuing into the next year and beyond as we re-acquaint ourselves with some refreshing new Teutonic tastes.
Britain has one of the highest levels of sugar consumption per capita in the world at 0.56 kilos per person per week. But with growing pressure to tame our collective sweet tooth, the drier styles of German wines, particularly rieslings, could be the cheat we need… in a glass.
Long after the rise and rise of Chile and Argentina, Brazil could well be the next new world producer to enter the UK wine scene with a vengeance.
Currently, only around 30 of Brazil’s 1250 wineries export internationally – a tiny figure compared to its South American neighbours. That may well change however, with UK specialist Majestic bringing in two Brazilian wines as limited-parcels (or WIGIGs) in early 2019. If the appetite is there, the wines could join previous success stories (including the retailer’s first Natural and Greek wines) in securing permanent listings.
Could growing-Grüner overtake sweetheart Sauvignon?
Grüner Veltliner may not roll off the tongue, but it’s certainly rolling onto it – for many British wine lovers at least. Although still relatively unknown, this native Austrian grape is up 41% in volume at Majestic in 2018 and it is finding new fans in Sauvignon Blanc drinkers in particular.
“It’s a fresh, vibrant style – clean and crisp – perfect for the current white zeitgeist,” explains Imogen Bowen-Davies, Austria buyer at Majestic. “We do a lot of work in our stores to encourage people to come in and taste, often blind. We’re always look to help lovers of Kiwi Sauvignon explore areas they might not have thought of – and time and again Gruner comes out top of their tastes”.
‘Vintage of the Century’ propels English Wine
English Wine has long been touted as a future gem but the vintage of 2018 could turn out to be the fertile soil in which our future success is planted.
A hot summer, sporting successes and ever-increasing quality helped to grow sales of wines from the United Kingdom at Majestic by 25%. Looking forward, winemakers across the country are heralding this year’s harvest as the ‘Vintage of the Century’ – meaning 2019 could well be a year which really sees homegrown wine kick on.
‘Small Beer’ rekindles Medieval tastes in brews
Up until the Modern era, it was not uncommon to drink low alcohol beer morning, noon and night. Far from welcoming a return to the Middle Ages, it does seem however UK drinkers are more open than ever to beers in the 1 – 2.5% ABV bracket.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction about opening a beer after a long day” explains Beth Pearce, beer buyer at Majestic. “And whilst we know about the health risks of doing just that, we still want something which tastes the part. We did a lot of blind tasting before dipping our toe in the low alcohol beer world, and finally settled on ‘ Small Beer’ – a craft set-up in Bermondsey, South London. It harks back to the Medieval world of ‘small beer’ in strength, but is thoroughly, appealingly, modern in taste and production”.
Gin Goes Global
2018 began with a record 315 homegrown distilleries, a rise of 127% in five years, but now it’s not just us Brits who are now being overjoyed by juniper.
In the last 12 months Majestic have launched gins from Provence in the South of France, Finland and Pennsylvania to add to those from New Zealand, California, and of course, the UK. The trend for local v international is expected to continue with the gin-craze diversifying, rather than slowing.
“The genius of gin is that it can really reflect where it is born” explains Beth Pearce, spirits buyer at Majestic. “That can be at an international level – with botanicals and flavours only found in the country of origin. Or it can be even more bespoke, with local gins in the UK reflecting the very landscape surrounding the distillery. It’s what makes gin such a fascinating, unique spirit.“