From light wines and tequila to more cans, Rachel Badham looks at what’s hot for this year

Trends that were emerging pre-pandemic have sped up and will continue to do so in the new year,” says Becky Davies, head of commercial at Ten Locks, as she predicts what 2023 will hold for the drinks industry. 

As financial uncertainty looms, it seems equally uncertain what the coming months will look like for drinks producers and retailers. But when it comes to consumer preferences, 2023 could be the year in which emerging categories consolidate themselves as big players in the industry. 

With Dry January in full swing, Davies points out that the low/no sector is starting off strongly this year. But as the category gains popularity, and risks becoming oversaturated with options, she says retailers need to be “stocking the right brands which act as beacons of quality to keep consumers coming back”. 

In the spirits world, Davies predicts that 2023 could be the year when tequila catches up with gin and vodka, helped in part by the popularity of tequila-based cocktails. 

“While vodka and gin-based cocktails remain popular and demand their share, the future of tequila is looking incredibly bright as consumers graduate from the two other categories,” she says. 

“The popularity of the classic Margarita prevails and is having a halo effect across other agave drinks. As consumer confidence grows, they’re also branching out into other serves,” such as the Paloma cocktail. 

Berkmann Wine Cellars predicts 2023 could be the year of light-bodied wines, as an increasing number of drinkers seem to be favouring a fresher taste. 

“We have seen large year-on-year growth when it comes to light and refreshing wines,” the importer reports, noting Picpoul and pale rosé as top choices among consumers. 

However, 2023 is also looking bright for off-the-beaten track styles and regions. “Shifts in consumption patterns, combined with small harvests across numerous regions, have led to shortages of popular styles,” says Berkmann purchasing director Alex Hunt. 

“If ever there was a time to explore alternatives, this is it,” he adds , mentioning Portuguese Alvarinho as an alternative to Galician Albariño while its availability remains low. 

And sustainability is still at the top of many consumers’ agendas, according to Hunt. “To maximise this opportunity, highlight these qualities to customers and design the wine list to draw attention to these attributes, such as organic, vegan or carbon neutral wines,” he adds. 

Packaging is likely to be at the centre of conversations about sustainability, with Raissa de Haas, co-founder of Double Dutch mixers, saying: “With the can being infinitely recyclable and costing less in energy and transportation costs than other raw materials, including glass, we expect to see more drinks brands place a greater focus on the aluminium can as a packaging option for products.” 

“Retailers are also increasingly calling for cans as part of meeting their own sustainability goals,” adds fellow Double Dutch founder, Joyce de Haas. 

For retailers to get it right in 2023, Ten Locks’ Davies says that now is the best time to curate a high-quality range: “We’ve established that people will drink less but better, so use precious shelf space to grow the category in the right places.” 

And as the cost of living crisis persists, this year could see more consumers than ever favour at-home drinking over going out. 

“The rise of drinking and hosting at home provides a huge opportunity for retailers,” says Davies. “Ensure you stock a selection of on-trend drinks in creative packaging formats and presentation vessels, such as single serve, pouches and cans, to suit the changing needs of today’s evolving lifestyles and drinking occasions.”