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What will be drinking this year?


While global wine predictions are difficult there are some growing trends

Not many can predict the future, but wine ‘experts’ around the world, or shall we say ‘wine stakeholders’ are trying their best. Globally, a combination of economic uncertainty, moderation movements, and Gen Z preferences are likely to impact the wine and drinks landscape next year.

Generally, consumers are much more alert to promotions and discounts as they look to maximise their spending power, even waiting for a preferred brand to be discounted rather than trading down to a cheaper or own-label alternative.

Moreover, the IWSR (the global benchmark for beverage alcohol data and intelligence) reports that there is growing caution among consumers about the future, with confidence varying from country to country although generally they are more selective about which brands they buy and how often.

The no-alcohol wine segment is now well established, and the same reports states “new brands are entering the market with more premium attributes, but there are challenges in developing no-alcohol wine with a taste profile comparable to traditional wines.” Could this be an opportunity for Cyprus? ‘Leftover grapes’ could be used to produce non-alcoholic wine. The domestic market might not be strong, but such a venture could focus on export.

A shift is being seen towards red wine. Marketers expect that Gen Z (born in 1995 to 2012) will up their purchase of red wine. Beyond the mainstays like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, the IWSR report points out there is a big impact of Italian red varieties. In Cyprus we have seen the rise of Italian (Primitivo, Aglianico, Nero d’Avola) and French varieties (Tannat, Cabernet Franc). Our own Maratheftiko and especially Yiannoudi are pushing for better production share as well as market share, even though they are still less than six per cent of the total production.

Digital marketing strategists Linchpin SE predict that natural wine will carry on growing. It looks like from a niche market it will become mainstream. It is trendy but is slow growing in Cyprus, however, in markets like China it is growing faster.

Another trend concerns sparkling wines – not just Champagne. This popular beverage is becoming an everyday staple in many countries. In the US alone, it is predicted that sparkling wines will outsell beer in 2023. This is a trend that will eventually take over in Cyprus too. Prosecco sales are up, commonly the most popular sparkling in Cyprus; however the likes of Franciacorta (Italy), Cremant (France) and Cava (Spain) are attracting a lot of interest. Champagne, despite its radical increase in sales, is still consumed at similar levels as in 2021 with consumers being more adventurous towards smaller Champagne producers.

Since Covid the traditional wine industry is transforming to an eCommerce-driven industry. This is slowly growing in Cyprus too, but not so much as overseas. Cyprus, over the last few years has seen an increase in wineries making more use of social media to promote their wines and their wineries, as well as wine shops offering online order services. It is expected that this trend will continue.

Everyone has access to social media, and people have become more accustomed to shopping from the comfort of their home. Smaller wineries can take advantage of this and promote their products to a broader market.

Cyprus is famous for its cuisine, but not so much on fine dining, with which the wine industry is traditionally associated. There are a few restaurants, many of which are in five-star hotels, but not enough. Having more adventurous wine-lovers wanting to try new wines, many restaurants are now adopting their wine list. A good wine list is not necessarily a prerogative of fine dining restaurants only, good food is not only fine dining’s prerogative.

Recent prices are affecting this trend globally. Linchpin SE mentions that “restaurants adapt to the changing market by offering more experimental wine programmes. For instance, they are experimenting with various wines and ingredients in their dishes, such as pairing food with wine and creating new menu items that use wine as an ingredient or seasoning. For example, a restaurant may have a ‘wine flight’ that includes a different selection of wines every night at certain times of the day. This helps increase sales as customers are attracted to wine’s ‘experiential’ aspect.” These are good ideas that many restaurants on the island could consider too.

The impact of climate change will continue in 2023 too. Brace yourself for some wonderful, refined sparkling wines from England and more powerful reds from Northern Europe, mainly Germany and Austria. Meanwhile, the trends of Biodynamic wines, Vegan wines and Orange wines will continue. The focus on ingredients, authenticity, proximity, wellness, and taking care of yourself, society and the planet, are all growing fast. Customers are seeking reassurance that they’re taking care of the earth as well as themselves.

The cost of the raw materials (grapes), labour, logistics and other materials (bottles, corks, labelling) will see the price of wine rising higher. In Cyprus our winemakers and oenologists will use more experimentation with local indigenous varieties. For instance, there will be more Morokanella and Yiannoudi in the market in 2023, and many wineries will focus on exports, therefore expect an increase in the presence of Cypriot wines abroad.

Wine trends can be tricky to predict, but I would like to see people become more adventurous with their choices, expand out of their comfort zone, and trust us, the sommeliers, to recommend tasty wines. New year, new hopes, new wines! Happy New Year!

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