As always rosé will be popular over the summer, but with consumers becoming ever more educated about what they’re eating and drinking, operators will need to make sure their rose selection is diverse.
“Rosés have always been quite frivolous – people haven’t really taken them too seriously. But that also means they have been quite willing to experiment and take recommendations, and be pleasantly surprised as well,” says Emily MacDonald, director of sales for Liberty Wines.
“The professional wine lists are truly consolidated now to the extent that a lot of places will select more than one rosé and will be looking for different styles and colours from different parts of the world.”
Most operators should look to stock at least three rosés this summer: a token sweet rosé, most popular with female drinkers; a mid-range rich, fruit driven rosé with a deep colour from Australia, Chile or Argentina; and a light, European rosé that is friendlier for food matching.
“We’ll continue to see these three areas populated,” says Henry John, marketing manager at ViVAS. “We’ll also see more on the European side of things – it’s an area not fully explored but it’s big because it goes particularly well with food.”
Throughout the course of 2010 all wine categories saw a sales decline in the on trade - except for sparkling wine. Consumers are continuing to celebrate special occasions with a bottle of bubbly, but have downgraded from expensive bottles of Champagne to the likes of Prosecco and Cava.
But the area starting to emerge as a major contender in the on trade is English sparkling wine, mostly as a result of consumer’s increased interest in provincial products.
“As a category on its own English sparkling wine is growing quite quickly,” adds MacDonald. “People are interested because they can identify strongly with things that are produced often near to where they live or have some kind of local identity for them.”
As an alternative to Prosecco and English sparkling wines, operators can find value in Brut wines from Burgundy and other tank method sparkling wines, which can be produced at a lower cost.
However MacDonald goes on to warn operators not to see Cava as a value sparkling wine.
“There’s a big difference between cheapness and good value. We’ve tasted a huge amount of wine in the Cava category and not seen anything quality.”
For those seeking to make the most of their white wine list this summer, light, crispy alternatives to Pinot Grigio are set to be a hit as consumers become more adventurous.
“It’s about refreshment in terms of wine styles now,” says John. “People are looking for wines that don’t leave you with that cloying, heavy taste in the mouth that some of the Chardonnays of yesteryear used to. That’s why Pinot Grigio is so popular because it’s light and fruity and you can drink it without noticing it so much. Sauvignon Blanc is also popular because it’s that clean, crispy style of wine with lots of green and zesty fruits. I think styles around that will grow this summer.”
There’s been a lot of interest in unusual grape varieties from other parts of the world, such as Pinot Gris, Vermentino or Gruner Veltliner from Australia and New Zealand, Fiano from Puglia and Sicily, and Pictaul de Pinet from the Languedoc region of France.
However when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, John believes consumers will continue to demand exactly what they’re used to.
“You’ve got two extremes – the fairly well known Marlborough style that’s very pronounced with big green fruits, then the other end like Sancerre which is elegant and subtle. We are finding that at the volume level we’re talking about people are going for the slightly more pronounced style with less elegance but more upfront green fruits. And I can’t see that changing because that’s the style people are producing.”
However Ranald Macdonald, proprietor of Boisdale Restaurant Group believes the real growth in white wine will come from a renewed Chardonnay category.
“My prediction is that well-made elegant Chardonnay will come back in,” he says. “Chardonnay is undoubtedly the world’s greatest white grape and for too long it has been unfashionable, principally due to the swathe of huge oaked Chardonnays from the new world that dominated the UK’s high street during the late 80s and 90s.
“The grape varietals with which we have been involved during the separation are simply not as versatile or stimulating. How much Sauvignon Blanc can you drink? In its highest form Chardonnays like Puligny Montrachet or Hamilton Russell from South Africa have a minerality and complexity that other white grapes simply cannot touch.”
Red and Sherry
While red wine is not synonymous with summer drinking, operators shouldn’t ignore the potential for a slightly chilled, light and fruity red such as Beaujolais, Valpolicella or Pinot Noir, which can be drunk on its own or matched with meaty fish such as salmon.
Unfortunately, despite a massive push from the on trade and its well-known versatility, experts don’t see sherry soaring in popularity any time soon.
“You have to have sherry when it’s in the right environment and with the right food,” added John. “On its own it’s a difficult sell. If I was giving advice to publicans or restaurateurs on what is a must stock, that certainly wouldn’t be in the mix. It’s a good product but a nightmare to sell.”
Next week, BigHospitality will be exploring beer trends set to take off this summer.