If the people of Scotland vote for independence in September they’ll take with them one of the UK drinks industry’s biggest assets.
Rosé is coming of age. After its mad surge in popularity in the mid to late noughties, sales of pink wine have levelled off and consumers are turning to paler-coloured, drier styles that go well with food.
April air is full of promise. Balmy evening barbecues and picnics in the sunshine are just around the corner. Long, refreshing drinks will be the order of the day and the best way to gauge what might slake consumer thirst this season is to talk to the trendsetters.
At first sight, the latest export data from Jerez’s Consejo Regulador make for some pretty grim reading. Total imports of sherry in the UK fell more than 1 million litres, from just over 12 million litres in 2012 to just over 11 million litres in 2013. This is typical of the downward trend that has dominated the UK sherry market over the course of the past decade.
Winter is barely behind us and the sun already seems to be shining on cider sales. They grew 9% by value in the off- trade to reach nearly £1 billion in the year to March 1, according to Nielsen, and cider is outperforming most other drinks categories.
Cider is set for a super summer, but it is no longer as simple as pouring apple cider over ice. Keep on top of the trends with OLN's guide to the five key elements to make this year the summer of cider.
Ruth Yates founded Corks Out in Chester in 2003 and has grown the business to a chain of five shops – in Alderley Edge, Stockton Heath, Timperley and Heswall – as well as an e-commerce website.
Drinkers want more English wine than the country’s 1,438ha of vineyards can produce. But production remains tiny compared to more established wine countries, prices are high and there are still some people who don’t even realise English wine exists.
Bookmakers have slashed the odds on Britain basking in the hottest temperatures on record this summer to 4/1 after forecasters predicted a prolonged heatwave.
When Scotland wakes up on September 19, voters will have decided whether to break away from the UK and set out as an independent nation, opening the prospect of differing tax regimes and currencies on each side of the border. Both sides of the political debate are already being hotly discussed, but many issues remain unclear, including the implications for drinks retailers.
Rob Hart’s not really into gimmicky beers. “Old Badger’s Arse and that sort of thing?” he half asks and half laments, shaking his head. The credo of his Harts Family Brewers is to produce good beer, present it well and turn a profit, without being married to a style, whether it’s old-fashioned chestnut bitters aimed at 60-somethings in the golf club or Belgian-style saisons to be sipped by hip young readers of The Chap in Shoreditch craft beer bars.
If you take a stroll down the wine aisles of a British supermarket these days, you’re bound to be struck by the diverse origins of the offering. It’s a veritable United Nations out there, with representatives from Australia, Chile, Spain, the US, Italy and South Africa jostling for shelf space with Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Uruguay. Twenty years ago, the picture would have been different. Those shelves would have held a far scantier range of wines, and would almost certainly have been dominated by one country: France.
The wine trade loves Germany. In fact, it’s quite possible that anyone who has tasted even a smallish range of what the country has to offer loves its wines – they’re great quality, they cover pretty much every price point and they come in all shapes and sizes.
On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness are downed across the globe, but that figure more than doubles to 13 million pints on St Patrick’s Day, according to Diageo sales figures.
According to this year’s Good Beer Guide there are 1,147 breweries in the UK, with almost 200 opening in the past year, taking levels to a 70-year high. Established national and local brewers have been joined by exciting start-ups that have helped change the taste, quality and style of the beers we drink. But which one’s best? Only one way to find out ... with the latest in our Hot List poll of leading retailers and opinion-formers in the field.
The snacks market has gone mad for sharing sizes over the past few years, but as successive duty hikes have combined with economic and ecological factors to drive prices up, wines and spirits have begun to embrace individual serves.
This central Birmingham independent has a plush wine bar upstairs and a wine shop with sampling machines downstairs.
Comedian Dylan Moran once said that to drink gin you have to be 45, female and sitting on the stairs, because gin isn’t really a drink – it’s more a mascara thinner.
Fears of a poor 2013 harvest in Spain have not materialised and the country looks set to remain the European favourite for wines at what retailers and producers are euphemistically calling “key price points”.
Ask a Napa winemaker what they thought of the 2011 vintage and you’re likely to get one of two answers. For some it was an opportunity, for others a disaster.
For the first time in a decade the UK beer market has shown two consecutive quarters of growth – led by retailers who champion premium bottled ale. The British Beer & Pub Association produces a quarterly beer barometer survey and it shows the total beer market grew 5.2% in the third quarter of 2013, its best performance this century.
A piledriver is a wrestling manoeuvre that sees a spandex-clad behemoth pick up his opponent, turn him upside down and slam his head into the ground. It is favoured by a wrestler called The Undertaker, and it always results in a knockout.
With prices under pressure from duty, short harvests and an exodus of growers struggling to make money from grapes, French wine suppliers face a balancing act. On the one hand it is a struggle to maintain value for money at entry level – but on the other, many are benefiting from consumers trading up.
Sales have dropped sharply, but retailers love Portugal, saying it’s “in a good place”. On average its wines are cheaper than many of its European competitors – but the complexity of its regions and grapes can put off the uninitiated.
More than 20 million UK viewers regularly tuned into the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, suffering the heartbreak of England’s crushing defeat by Germany and enjoying the drama of Spain’s extra-time win in the final.
They’re calling it a ticking time-bomb, the hidden menace and the new nicotine – as addictive and dangerous as cigarettes.
This village off-licence and deli in a Victorian former schoolhouse has become a destination shop, thanks to its real ale and cider range, including a rolling choice on draught. Bottled beers are sourced from local microbreweries and craft brewers around the country and further afield, while the bottled cider range focuses on premium, niche and boutique products.
The ritual of celebrating Christmas with fizz has become as common as leaving a glass of sherry out for Santa. Yet, like cheap ice-cream deals when temperatures rise, the prices plummet just at the time people are most likely to buy Champagne.
We would like to apologise to any of our readers who are cricket fans for mentioning the “A” word at all. Not only did England hand the Ashes to the Aussies on a plate, but we were probably drinking their wines while we did it. Well, not the cricket team as such — but the rest of us.
If you heard there was a wine-producing country growing at 30% in the off-trade, you’d be running for the fireworks, wouldn’t you? You’d at least be cracking open a bottle of something special to celebrate.
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