Spirits set to overtake wine as global drinking habits change

According to a report from the World Spirits Alliance released on Wednesday, global sales of spirits such as vodka and whisky are expected to surpass wine as drinking preferences have shifted.

The report from Oxford Economics and alcohol market research firm IWSR states 2.67 billion cases of spirits were sold in 2022, almost as many as the 2.8 billion cases of wine sold that year.

“Should current trends in both categories continue, spirits volumes will soon surpass those of wine,” the report states.

Trends, including a shift towards drinking fewer, more expensive drinks, notably a growing range of cocktails, have seen spirits displace wine.

The wine industry has faced a global supply glut, difficult weather and falling demand, which has hit a 27-year low. Beer companies are also grappling with a shift to spirits in some markets.

BY THE NUMBERS

Beer accounted for 75.2% of total beverage alcohol volumes in 2022, followed by wine at 10.4% and spirits at 9.9%;

In terms of the value of sales in 2022, spirits accounted for 40% of total beverage alcohol sales followed by beer at 38.1% and wine at 17.6%;

Indian whisky is set to be the fastest growing spirits category between 2022 and 2027, growing by 50 million cases, with tequila, rum and gin all expected to rise between 10 and 20 million cases. Cognac and Armagnac are set to grow the least in the spirits market.

The production and sale of spirits contributed some $730 billion to the global economy in 2022, when activity ranging from farming and manufacturing to shipping and sales in shops, bars and restaurants is included.

Source: Reuters

UK Sees Surge in Wine Tourism

WineGB has released its first wine tourism report, revealing a significant surge in visits to UK vineyards and wineries. The recent findings indicate that visits have surged by 55% in the past two years, underscoring the growing popularity of wine tourism in England and Wales.

The report further indicates that 1.5 million people visited UK vineyards and wineries last year, accounting for a quarter of the total income for these establishments. The industry anticipates continued growth and investment, with WineGB forecasting further expansion in the coming years.

WineGB’s 2024 Industry Survey, which captured responses from over 130 members accounting for more than 90% of UK wine production, provides a detailed snapshot of the sector’s forward momentum. The survey reveals that there are currently 300 vineyards and wineries actively engaged in wine tourism.

Among the top activities attracting visitors include:

275 cellar doors and shops
260 guided tours and tastings
103 venues for hire
97 self-guided tours
92 places to stay and eat
38 picnic areas

A notable 42% of inbound visitors expressed high interest in visiting a winery. According to Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, commented on the report’s findings: “Our Manifesto for Growth identified essential policies for accelerating our sector’s development. Today’s report showcases the immense value and importance of wine tourism in our industry. It’s our call to action for policy changes in tax, planning, and marketing to unlock the full potential of wine tourism and reach 16 million visitors.

The 10 Most Expensive Wines in the World

Few things in the world improve in quality and value with age. Aged wine is one of those things, defined by elegance, rarity and finesse. If you are drawn to the thrill of owning something truly one of a kind, this niche market will certainly appeal to you.

We’ve all heard the expression “aging like a fine wine,” so you may not be surprised to learn seven of the 10 most expensive wines in the world are from 1947 or earlier. That includes three bottles that date back to the 18th century. No need to check the “best before” date.

Rank Wine Year Country Price
1 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1945 France $558,000
2 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 United States $500,000
3 Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 France $310,700
4 Cheval Blanc 1947 France $304,375
5 Château Lafite 1869 France $230,000
6 Château Margaux 1787 France $225,000
7 Ampoule from Penfolds, Block-42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Australia $168,000
8 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1787 France $156,450
9 Henri Jayer, Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1999 France $136,955
10 Massandra Sherry de la Frontera 1775 Spain $43,500

France leads the way for luxury wines
What conclusions can we draw from the list? We all already knew that they like their wine in France, so the fact they produce the most expensive wines around won’t come as a huge shock.

Seven of the top ten most expensive wines ever sold hail from France, although special mention must go to the United States’ own Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Napa Valley in 1992. Only 175 cases were produced at a time when Screaming Eagle Cabernet hadn’t yet established itself as a premium wine producer.

Results are in for London Wine Fair’s “Judgement of London”

London Wine Fair’s Judgement of London took place this week, and the results are now in. 32 wines were tasted over a period of four hours by 21 judges, a selection of the UK’s best palates, two-thirds of which were either Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. The wines, all of which were decanted and served in Jancis Robinson X Richard Brendon glasses, were tasted in pairs under exam conditions: eight pairs of white wines, followed by eight pairs of red wines; each pairing comprised a European wine with their Rest of World counterpart, matched in terms of style. The judges scored each wine out of ten, which resulted in a grand total for each wine, and a final overall score for European vs. Rest of World.

The wines, amongst the best in the world, were selected by Sarah Abbott MW, MD of Swirl Wine Group and Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers, who presented the results on Centre Stage with Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair earlier today (Tuesday afternoon). The key findings are as follows:

Top scoring white: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
Runner up: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012
Top scoring red: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012
Runner up: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009
Top scoring wine: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
European wines: 2,621.5 points
Rest of World: 2,604.5 points
Overall winner: Europe
Difference: 0.65%

The purpose of Judgement of London was to give a snapshot of the fine wine landscape almost 50 years on from the original Judgement of Paris in 1976. Whilst California was the outright winner of the original Paris tasting, in 2024 –with a broader spectrum of wines to better reflect today’s fine wine scene – the results are almost too close to call, with less than a percentage point between the two “teams”.

Sarah Abbott MW commented: “The results from Judgement of London highlight that great wine can and does come from all corners of the world. Winemakers of these wines share so much in common, and the excitement and gratitude that these wines inspire unites and inspires us as a trade.”

Ronan Sayburn MS commented: “From the beginning, it was never about a winner or loser, and the results show that. 50 years ago, there was a definite difference in style; now it is a much more level playing field. The so-called New World were making wines which were for a cool climate style, but in a warm climate. And obviously they had a lot of success, but were they elegant? Since Judgement of Paris, the so-called New World has better adapted to their climates, clones, and what works well. It is no longer the underdog. All these wines tasted on their own are amongst the greatest in the world, and we were asking our judges to choose amongst them.”

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey, commented: “The results could barely have been closer, and whilst that all points towards the equal footing of European and Rest of World wines in today’s fine wine market, it is also testament to the pairings selected by Ronan and Sarah. They were bang on in terms of matching. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in what was frankly a Herculean task; sourcing 32 of the world’s finest wines; Ronan and Sarah for their brilliant selections and management; and last but by no means least, the judges themselves, and their extraordinary palates.”

The full list of wines: https://shorturl.at/biZTy

South African wine industry delivers exceptional harvest despite climatic challenges

Despite facing frost, floods, and unpredictable weather, South African wine producers have delivered an exceptional 2024 harvest, according to a recent report. This season showcases the industry’s adaptability and resilience, promising wines of outstanding quality.

The current report indicates that’s that the 2024 harvest season has been a journey defined by meticulous planning, and the adaptability of wine producers in response to diverse climatic challenges and disruptions.

According to South Africa Wine, harvesting season was a true test of the South African wine industry’s resilience. “Despite facing diverse and demanding climatic events, from frost and heavy winter rainfall to floods and wind, the industry’s adaptability and nimbleness transformed this harvest into one of the most remarkable in recent memory,” South Africa Wine said in a statement.

“With optimal ripening tempo, small berries and moderate, dry conditions during harvest, the stage is set for wines of unparalleled excellence to supply the domestic and more than 120 global markets,” they further added.

Vinpro consultation services manager Dr Etienne Terblanche said excellent winter conditions in most wine-grape growing regions raised high expectations for the harvest.”

“One of the standout aspects of this season was the exceptional sanitary condition of the grapes – a rarity in rainy harvest seasons and a testament to the industry’s resilience and adaptability,” he further said.

South Africa Wine chief executive officer Rico Basson said the 2023/2024 season may have presented its share of obstacles, but it has also showcased the resilience and determination of the South African wine industry.

“This industry stands resilient, with our wine stock now in equilibrium. Despite fluctuations in harvest yields and vineyard surface areas, we are primed and prepared to supply the world with exceptional quality and distinctive wines,” Basson expressed.

“The South African wine industry is undergoing a strategic repositioning, shifting our focus to value growth. Through reinvestment for growth and collaborative strategies, we are forging a path to strengthen our industry and propel us towards a future of quality, innovation, and sustainability,” he said.
The 2024 grape harvest yielded 1,099,051 tonnes from 87,848ha, a 7% decrease from 2023, according to SAWIS. This, combined with strong market demand, has balanced the industry’s wine stock levels, unlike some competitors who face a surplus and drastic measures like uprooting vineyards. Lower volumes create cost pressures, but they also support the sector’s commitment to value growth.

The total wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling, is estimated at 857m litres, with a recovery rate of 780 litres per tonne of grapes.

Early cultivars had lighter yields across most regions, while later red cultivars generally improved. Winemakers are optimistic about the overall quality, especially full-bodied red wines with excellent colour and tannin extraction. White wines are expected to be fresh with ample texture.

South Africa is the world’s seventh-largest wine producer, contributing about 4% of the world’s wine. The industry adds more than R56.5bn to the country’s GDP and employs 270,364 people across the value chain, including 85,962 on farms and in cellars.

Regional Production Highlights:

Breedekloof: Optimal grape analyses and good colour in red wines.

Cape South Coast: Healthy grapes due to low rainfall during harvest, with good quality despite lower juice recoveries.

Cape Town: Good flavour intensity in white wines and promising colour development in red wines.

Klein Karoo: High rainfall and good wine quality, highlighting the importance of rainfall timing.

Northern Cape: Riper, tropical wine profile with better-than-expected quality in red cultivars.

Olifants River: Despite flood damage, yields matched the previous season, with disease control methods improving wine quality.

Paarl: A wet and cold winter followed by a hot January affected crop size, but the region saw good variation in yields and wine quality.

Robertson: High humidity challenged early cultivars, but overall grape health and wine quality were good.

Stellenbosch: Significant early rainfall followed by a dry summer led to lighter yields for early cultivars, but good grape quality.

Swartland: Despite a lighter yield, the quality of grapes was good, especially for red wines.

Worcester: Optimal ripeness and sugar levels in most grapes, with improved colour development in red cultivars. New plantings are enhancing the region’s red wine output.