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The Rise of Beaujolais and the Decline of Merlot

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Decanter Magazine is reporting there’s been a notable shift in wine preferences in the UK, particularly in the red wine market. Merlot, once a popular choice, has seen a significant decrease in sales within bars and restaurants, spurred by a demand for lighter red wines.

On the flip side, Beaujolais is experiencing a surge in popularity, with sales of Gamay grapes increasing by 35% since 2019 in upscale venues. This shift is attributed to a preference for lighter red wines and the search for value. Other varieties such as Nebbiolo, Corvina and Barbera are also gaining popularity, alongside a growth in interest for Riesling, Semillon, Viognier, and Grüner Veltliner. Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc have seen a decline.

UK wine sales in the on-trade sector (bars, pubs, restaurants, and hotels) have fallen by 19% since 2019, influenced by economic factors, lifestyle changes and the cost-of-living crisis. Despite a general downturn in pub and bar wine sales, restaurants and hotels have seen a recovery to pre-pandemic levels, with supermarkets and specialist wine stores gaining a larger share of the market as consumers opt to drink at home. Red wine sales in particular have dropped by 26% since 2019, but rosé sales have risen by 15%. Champagne sales have soared post-lockdown, unlike Prosecco, which has fallen out of favour.