The battle to beat creeping Brexit wine price hikes is seeing a rise in sales of great value wines from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia with a 400% sales increase at Majestic – the UK’s largest wine retailer – since last June.
Last month the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) reported that the average price of a bottle of wine bought in the UK had hit an all-time high of £5.55 due to duty increases and Brexit related currency fluctuations. As a result, savvy British consumers are broadening their minds and horizons and looking to Europe’s peripheries for the best combination of quality and value for money.
Portugal has also seen a bounce in sales, with a red wine from Lisboa beating off competition from Spain, France and the New World to become Majestic’s most popular.
Like much of the market, Majestic has dialled up their Eastern European offerings accordingly. New additions have included a Romanian Pinot Grigio which Majestic’s buying director Richard Weaver described as “the best possible example at £5.99”.
Other bestsellers include a Krasno Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc which has proved incredibly popular in the face of price rises from both New Zealand and France, Incanta from Romania (an ever-elusive cheap Pinot Noir) and the aforementioned Porta 6 from Lisboa, Portugal.
Weaver added: “if you’d have told me 10 years ago that Majestic’s best-selling red wine was Portuguese I’d have laughed you out the building – but the economics post-2016 has changed people’s willingness to test their taste buds beyond our traditional markets.”
While the biggest stumbling block for Eastern Europe and Portugal used to be one of perception, James Reed, buyer at Majestic, now says: “It’s the quality at different price points of these wines which has really impressed. They’re styles that are recognisable to the British public but very keenly priced for the level of expertise involved.”
The need for flexibility in sourcing value wines is a key challenge for retailers post-Brexit, and the clear popularity of these wines show that Eastern Europe and Portugal could be the way forward.