Top 10 wine trends of 2012 – part 1

From sustainable packaging to English sparklers, db surveys the UK’s wine landscape and runs through some likely scenarios for 2012. We’ll be adding a new one every day for the next 10 days.

Identifying the next big thing can be an exhausting, time consuming and often futile business.

On paper a niche style may double sales within a month, but in practice this may simply represent a few hundred cases or single new agency.

Likewise, it is always difficult to tell whether an existing trend is finally running out of steam or simply drawing breath before its next surge forward.

Still, with the UK’s economic projections for 2012 decidedly downbeat, a degree of preparation can at least mitigate the chance of nasty surprises and may even provide the edge in an unforgiving marketplace.

To help, the drinks business has analysed some of the most frequently recurring areas of recent speculation and canvassed opinion from across the industry to bring you our top 10 wine trends for 2012.

1. Sustainability will drive packaging innovation

The first idea to dispel is that constrained finances mean customers can no longer afford to care about environmental or ethical issues.

According to Sainsbury’s senior wine buyer Julian Dyer: “Fairtrade wine sales are flying at Sainsbury’s right now, and we have recently converted all our Taste the Difference South African wines to Fairtrade.”

In Dyer’s view: “Economic stress does not lead consumers to compromise on values and ethics, in fact it makes them even more relevant.”

The trade is certainly keeping up its green initiatives, especially in areas where the green agenda coincides with efficiency savings.

As part of its recent ISO 14001 accreditation, UK distributor Hatch Mansfield has adapted its bottling criteria.

Rupert Lovie, the company’s brand manager for Viña Errazuriz and Caliterra, reports: “One of the objectives resulting from Hatch Mansfield’s environmental policy is to reduce the weight of glass across its portfolio and to use UK bottling where appropriate.”

UK bottling is certainly the answer for Jacob’s Creek, which adopted this for its “Classic” range at the end of 2011, citing the move as marking part of its commitment to environmental issues.

Meanwhile 2012 will see the launch of the world’s first paper wine bottle onto UK shelves. Developed by GreenBottle, the paper bottle weighs a mere 55g, just over a 10th of the weight of a 500g glass bottle, meaning transport costs will be hugely reduced.

In addition, the compostable bottle’s carbon footprint is 10% of a glass bottle. The idea has already been trialled with milk bottles in selected Asda stores, with inventor Martin Myerscough reporting: “Where available, they are outselling milk in plastic bottles by two or three to one.”

Can the idea catch on among wine drinkers? 2012 will no doubt reveal the answer.

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