That’s the key take away from Liberty Wine’s 2019 Premium On-Trade Wine Report, which makes encouraging reading for restaurants that take their wine selection seriously.
Great Britain’s total on-trade alcohol volume sales fell -2% in 2018 as consumers continue to moderate their alcohol consumption. Premium on-trade wine volume sales also dropped, but the value of sales of wine in the premium on-trade has held steady in an extremely challenging market.
Average spend per bottle increased +9% per year between 2015 and 2018 in the premium on-trade, which is significantly above inflation.
Liberty Wines says this growth is testament to the efforts of premium on-trade operators to introduce their customers to interesting, high quality wines.
“The right combination of knowledgeable staff, well-designed wine lists and an eclectic range of wines has consistently encouraged consumers to drink better wine,” says Liberty Wines managing director and Master of Wine David Gleave.
Liberty Wines and analyst CGA defines the premium on-trade as the top 5,900 (or 5% of) of all venues in terms of quality of offer (criteria includes range of products, main course cost, setting, customer profile, reputation and commercial success). The key outlet types used in the report were restaurants, hotels, gastropubs and wine bars.
The report also highlights the greater attention that premium drinkers pay to the wine that they are selecting and the emphasis they place on value (i.e. the relationship between quality and price) rather than price alone.
Consequently, wine is a far more important component of their overall on-trade experience, with 42% of premium wine drinkers agreeing that drinking the best wine they can afford is an important part of going out, nearly double the rate among non-premium wine drinkers.
White wine sales continue to be dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Cortese - the grape used in Gavi - saw the most notable growth.
There is far more diversity in red wine sales: Merlot leads the way closely followed by Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabinet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz.
Both volume and value are up for sparkling wine. Prosecco volumes are now more than double those of champagne but only account for approximately 40% of champagne’s value.