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Majestic predicts ‘unusual’ year for wine in 2018

Published:  13 December, 2017

Majestic Wine has predicted an “unusual” year for wine in 2018 as part of its ‘eight trends’ report.

1. Bigger = Better

According to Majestic “Magnums are big news”. The retailer said that in 2017 already, it has seen a 378% increase in year-on-year sales of super-sized bottles under £20, with Rosés and house reds in 1.5 litre measures proving particularly popular for weddings and parties, where a big celebration warranted big bottles.

“It’s is all about socialising around a bottle,” said buying director, Richard Weaver. “Magnums create brilliant centrepieces for dinner parties and events - particularly if you’re cutting back on your eating-out spend.”

2. El Niño hits South American wines

Abnormal weather in South America has resulted in low yields that have dismayed winemakers on both sides of the Andes, so Chile and Argentina may no longer be safe bets for wines at the £6 or under price point. In the immediate future, the emphasis for these regions is likely to shift from quantity to quality, warned the retailer.

3. Eastern Europe makes a brilliant bet

Eastern European wines have been steady ships on the choppy waters of dismal European harvests and Brexit-related supply blues, said Majestic. Its own sales were up +1365% year-on-year in the £5 to £10 price band in 2017. Majestic said that initial reports suggest Hungary’s harvest is down only 3% (compared to an EU-wide average drop of 14%), whilst Romania is looking at a 60% harvest increase.

4. Beyond the pale

It “may well be time for pale ale” to leave the limelight. A recent survey of buying habits across all of Majestic’s 210 stores suggests customers are increasingly interested in local red ales or stouts, with only 8% choosing pale as their beer of choice.

5. Prosecco

Sales of this light sparkling style are still booming. However, Majestic warned of another difficult harvest in Northern Italy (where some yields are down as much as 30%). It predicted sparkling wines from Sicily or Central Italy will become good value alternatives to stave off potential price increases.

6. Brits are favouring a new tipple

Majestic has recorded a 25% increase year-on-year in sales of sherry in 2017. It said that no longer is sherry considered to be “Granny’s favourite”, but is instead becoming acceptable for those in their 20s and 30s. Other fortified products making a comeback includes port, with sales seeing an 18% volume increase in 2017 and the unsung Madeira currently up 224%, versus the same period in 2016, it said.

7. The craft whisky scene is about to discover brandy

Brandy looks set to be the next spirit to receive the ‘craft’ treatment, following in the footsteps of whisk(e)y. A focus on provenance and increasing appearances in the ingredients lists of top cocktail experts has led to a new experimental take on the spirit. Majestic pointed to Armagnac as heir-apparent to flashy whisky brands.

8. Honey gin

Experimenting with different botanicals and flavours has made gin the success story of 2017, with sales up 110% vs last year at Majestic with over 120 new lines added throughout the year. Expect more flavours in 2018, like the newly launched honey gin, which is set to hit the shelves in the New Year.