What’s hot in the UK?

Thursday, 2 March, 2017
Elona Hesseling
With the New Year underway, it’s time to consider what 2017 may have in store. As South Africa’s biggest export market, the UK remains as important – and dynamic – as ever, and it pays to stay ahead of the current, and even future trends.

“The most important thing for 2017 will be how we deal with Brexit,” says Colin Thorne of Vagabond, an independent wine shop and bar with three sites across London. “Already inflationary pressure on prices from exchange rate changes is high and we will be forced to face higher prices on the shelves in 2017.

“In addition, the prospect of a full withdrawal from the customs union represents a massive threat to the UK’s wine drinkers. I don't think anyone has quite realised the extent this could damage the industry here yet. I like the optimism of the leading Brexit voices, but severely doubt that they know what they're about to unleash.”

For Neleen Strauss of High Timber restaurant on the Thames in London, the most important trend in 2017 will be wine drinkers taking even more to online shopping. “Millennials will choose wines – often with funky labels – and give immediate feedback on their purchases via social media, which should make for interesting wine blogging with a whole new dictionary of wine words,” she says.

Gareth Ferreira, assistant head sommelier at 67 Pall Mall, a wine-focused private club in London, says, “We have seen German Riesling return to glory, with both dry and sweet styles becoming more popular. But I think we have yet to discover the full potential of other German wines, notably Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Silvaner.

“With the price of Burgundy running away with the average consumer, people are trying to find alternatives for their Pinot Noir fix. Great Pinots from New World regions have been the answer for a while, but I think the next big Pinot hit will be from the Germans.”

Less but better

The trend towards drinking less, but better quality wine is expected to keep rising and many industry experts predict growth at the premium end. Gareth believes that premium South African wine could grow, as people continue to discover the value in the country’s high-end wines.

But as a whole, Gareth isn’t convinced that premium wine sales will rise. “With the weak pound and uncertainty of Brexit, consumers might not be overextending themselves on premium wine purchases. That said, 2015 Burgundy is already difficult to get hold of as it’s all been snapped up, so who knows?”

Portuguese White Wines

Both Majestic and Bibendum Wine are backing Portuguese wine – and particularly the whites – to become favourites this year. Portuguese wine has exploded in the On Trade last year (+25% in value) and while the country makes up a comparatively tiny share of the market, Bibendum noted that it was present on 40% of wine lists analysed using their new Mode technology (a tool that predicts future trends).

Tomas Maunier, sales and marketing director of the Fazenda restaurant group – with sites in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds – agrees, noting that they have started to see more people interested in Portuguese wines.

Orange Wine

This one has had the trade divided for some time now. While orange wine will always be niche, The Drinks Business reported that it’s set to surge in popularity this year “as savvy Londoners seek to broaden their wine knowledge and experiment outside of the safe realm of red, white and rosé”.

However, Tomas doesn’t believe that the orange wine trend will transpire just yet. “I’ve had people ask about it, but there’s a need for more general marketing of the product to raise awareness.”

Organic and Biodynamic Wine

Along a similar trend as orange wine, this category keeps popping up – and not surprisingly, as UK consumers are moving towards a healthier and more informed lifestyle. While Tomas believes that the market is slowly growing every year, “I just don’t think there is the demand from the public to have it across the board yet. I do, however, see it happening in the next five to 10 years.”

Colin explains that this category is dogged with superstition and self-worthiness. “While there are lots of advocates, interest and a growing awareness of these wines, it’s always going to be an elite rather than mainstream category.”

Wine Slushies, like Frosé

Although bitter-sweet for the purists, consumers’ love affair with cocktails and mixed drinks knows no bounds. Frosé – essentially a rosé slush puppy – started popping up in some of London’s bars and outdoor venues last summer. Will it resurface this year? Colin believes the answer is a reluctant yes – “this is a thing now!”

What do you think – which of these predictions will become a reality? Which other trends will shape the UK market?

Editors Note: Orange Wine

Orange Wine
Orange Wine


High Timber Restaurant
High Timber Restaurant

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