The Drinks Business earlier this week reported on a seminar held at the annual London International Wine Trade Fair where senior drinks analyst for global market research group Mintel, Johnnie Forsyth, spoke about the “sweet tooth generation” and how the wine industry cannot ignore this trend. That reminded me of what I once heard an American wine buyer say about the American market, “They call it dry and drink it sweet”.
It seems however that such is the sweet tooth nowadays, that they do not even call it dry anymore. According to Forsyth: “Sweet wines are driving sales in the US and the ‘Moscato Madness’ boom is showing no sign of slowing. The grape now accounts for 6% of volumes sales in the US market, up 33% year-on-year – they can’t make it quick enough.” Also interesting is that it is not only traditional sweeter style wines like Moscato that is being enjoyed by those enjoying the sweeter things in life. It is also wine traditionally preferred to be in a dry style. Sweet red blends are increasing in popularity and leading wine brands such as Gallo has included sweet reds to their offering.
“Red isn’t out, but dry is,” says Eatery Pulse Magazine in an article called Wine Trends: Where there is sweet, you’ll find Millenials
Although sweeter wines might be growing in volume and popularity, the traditional wine trade and industry would most probably shake their heads in disapproval, thinking of ways in which to convert these lost sheep. But with the wine industry in dire straits, perhaps there could be a case made for making sweeter wines in order for the younger generation to drink wine rather than spirits and coolers. And Forsyth says: “Consumers aged 18-24 are easily influenced by what they read and are abandoning wine completely in favour of other sweet alcoholic drinks as the experts are putting them off.”
To bridge the gap between the wine industry’s limited and traditional view of what constitutes a good wine and the consumer perception of what they enjoy drinking, Forsyth suggested the wine industry learn some lessons from spirits brands to develop limited edition offerings which will ensure innovative concepts and consumer friendly products while allowing for minimum risk and without altering their well-known and more traditional offerings.
While thoughts like this might trouble us about the future of quality wine as we would like to see and know it, it seems that sweeter wines would at least convert the younger generation to wine. “The trade needs to understand that it’s in our physiognomy to be drawn to sweet wines at a young age – our taste for dry wines doesn’t tend to evolve until later on in life,” Forsyth stressed.
I suddenly realised one more good thing about getting older… the ability to enjoy a classic, elegant glass of dry wine.