Posted: Jan 03, 2020
On the surface it might seem as if not a lot is going on to improve sustainability in the drinks industry – but there’s a huge amount happening behind the scenes as retailers and producers grapple with the complex issues in play when it comes to packaging and transport, figure out how best to deal with them and how they can be simplified to communicate choices to shoppers. Last summer, Waitrose piloted a “refillable” beer and wine system as part of its Unpacked scheme. It was a huge success that has already been expanded to three more stores. Expect to see more of this over the next 12 months.
Golden, flavoured and spiced rum
Drinkers are moving away from the stark hit of white rum and towards the more interesting barrel-aged golden rums (up 23 per cent year on year), and rums that have been flavoured or spiced (up almost 80 per cent over the last five years). Majestic has just bolstered its rum range, bringing in punchy rums from the award-winning Rockstar, such as Rockstar Pineapple Grenade Overproof Spiced Rum (65%, Majestic, £30 for 50cl) which is infused with pineapple and salted caramel, and Rockstar Two Swallows Spiced Rum (38%, Majestic, £24 for 50cl), a Guyanese rum infused with candied citrus and salted caramel.
No and low
For the past few years the biggest trend in drinks has been the pervasion and proliferation of no and low-alcohol alternatives. More on this later in the month.
Old world joys
As we drink less, and find that a desire for novelty is increasingly satisfied by other liquid elements of our diet, so we’re seeing a renewed appreciation of classics such as rioja and bordeaux.
Sometimes called spiked seltzers, these are made from carbonated water spiked with alcohol and flavoured with fruit or herbs. They typically have an abv of around 4-6% and have become huge in the US, appealing to those who are choosing to cut down on alcohol even on a night on. Look out for brands such as Bodega Bay and Balans.
Wine from odd places: Uruguay, Hungary, Wales, Georgia
Canvas for information on trends and there are always a few very keen, very shiny-eyed experts pushing very niche wines from far-flung and/or unexpected regions. I am perennially wary. The first rule of wine is that it has to taste good. Esoterica is all very well but there is a reason some wines are famous.
So I told my informants I was more interested in what people are actually drinking than in hot tips such as Uruguayan cat’s urine. “Funny you should mention Uruguay,” replied Ewan Murray of The Wine Society. “We sold 1,300 cases in 2019 compared to just 210 cases the year before.” He continued: “I think the real story for us is Hungary. As ever it’s the interesting indigenous varieties and value for money. We sell wine from 26 countries and Hungary is positioned at 14th, respectably mid-table!”
Then I remembered that in 2019 I tasted a sparkling wine made by biodynamic Welsh producer Ancre Hill...
By Victoria Moore
January 3 2020
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