2017 wine trends: Prosecco reigns but Italian reds poised for growth

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Staying loyal: wine drinkers won't be put off because of Brexit
Staying loyal: wine drinkers won't be put off because of Brexit
Prosecco may be Brits' favourite wine, but lesser-known Italian regions are poised for greater popularity, according to a leading wine expert.

Brian Howard, co-founder of analysts Wine Intelligence, told The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​Prosecco's popularity was unlikely to wane any time soon. 

He said: "It's a clear number one and I don't see it falling off the cliff, although Italy and a lot of importers are working hard at finding alternatives. It seems to take a long time - maybe five to 10 years - for a new wine region or style to become really embedded in the UK drinking culture.

"I think Italian reds, not just Chiantis, but the many great, good-value reds, particularly from the south, could be gaining in popularity."

There was also a "question mark" when it came to the potential for lesser-known South American wines to make their breakthrough into the UK market, he continued.

"[The continent] is dominated in the UK by Chile and Argentina, but Brazil and Uruguay could become more relevant and prevalent," he said, adding that the onus was on suppliers and importers to get them into the hands of pubs and restaurants."

Brexit won't scare wine drinkers

While Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding it would inevitably cause fluctuations in price, Howard said it would not necessarily drive British pub-goers away from wine or majorly affect their buying choices when drinking out. 

He said: "I don't think the world is going to fall apart because of Brexit. There'll be a lot of churn and uncertainty, but if most of the people in the UK who frequent pubs still have about the same flow of cash, they're not going to stop seeking out their favourite beers or indeed range of wine."

However, he said it was feasible drinkers could turn their sights away from European wines post-Brexit. 

"You could make a case that it might happen," he said. "The UK could choose post-Brexit not to impose the EU tax on wines coming into the EU from the new world, which would give non-European wines a small financial advantage.

"At the end of the day, it will depend on how the currencies play out: if sterling continues to be at a low point or goes even lower, that does disadvantage wines from particularly dollar-related countries such as the US, South America and Australia. 

"But the euro could decline as well, meaning European wines could still be price-competitive on a currency basis."

WSTA and BBPA duty fall out

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) were at loggerheads earlier this week after the BBPA dismissed the WSTA's claim that lowering beer duty would be a "job half done" to help pubs if wine and spirit duty was left untouched.

Miles Beale of the WSTA argued that a 2% cut could boost the wine and spirits industry's economic contribution by £2.9bn and boost treasury revenues by £368m.

But BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmons told the MA: "​Everyone understandably wants to lower taxes on their own products, but the fact remains that to deliver the most help to pubs, a cut in beer duty is the most effective option."

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