Changing tastes challenge the traditional bottles of red
By Mel Priestley | April 1, 2022
People aren’t drinking as much wine as they used to. According to reports by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis and Silicon Valley Bank, wine is being surpassed by sales of spirits, seltzer and other ready-to-drink beverages in the United States.
The same trend seems to be happening in Edmonton, too.
Over the last 11 years that The Marc has been open, owner Patrick Saurette has noticed a decrease in wine sales along with a corresponding increase in spirits sales.
“The trend that I’ve noticed over the last five years or so, is the importance of cocktails and alternative drinks on the menu,” he says. “Wine has shrunk overall in the percentage of product sold at our restaurant, but it’s made up for by different spirits.”
Margaux Burgess, owner of drinks-focused creative agency Lingua Vina, has noticed this too. She feels that the wine industry has always had a difficult time attracting new wine drinkers, particularly among younger demographics.
“There are a lot of barriers to entry,” she says. “Wine is a little bit more expensive by volume and it’s definitely confusing for people.
“You’re not guaranteed to find what you want at every store, either,” she continues. “You can find Twisted Tea at pretty much any liquor store, but you might grab a bottle of wine that you like at one place and then check two other stores and it isn’t there.”
Tanis Palmer, manager of Keg n Cork Liquor Company, has also noticed a general downward trend in wine sales. “For the last two years at least, sales have been lower,” she says. “As an independent, it’s probably more obvious to us than one of the chain stores.”
The pandemic throws a spanner in the works, making it harder to gauge what overall trends might be occurring. In-person dining remains down overall as the pandemic drags on, so wine sales are down too. Saurette has noticed a slight uptick in more premium wine sales for those who do dine out, though — and that corresponds to a trend in the Silicon Valley Bank report, as well.
He’s also noticed some other trends, like buzz about no- and low-alcohol wines (though he hasn’t brought in any yet) and an increase in white wine sales.
“Red is really dropping off in consumption,” Saurette says. “White is really resonating with our customers.”
Palmer has observed a slight drop in the market share of wines from Chile and Argentina, as well as a rise in the popularity of semi-sweet reds and sparkling wine. “It drives my boss crazy that I sell as much bubbly as I do!” she says with a laugh. “But I love them, and we have a fairly solid selection.”
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