The hottest wine varietals -- moscato and malbec -- have lost
some momentum, and nothing has come along to fill the gap, said
Danny Brager, VP-group client director for Nielsen's
beverage-alcohol team. "I keep saying, "What is the next big
thing?'" he said. "And I don't know what the magical answer is."
But it "feels like there is a need for something because beer and
spirits are doing a lot [innovation] right now and I think that's
Some 44% of beer's incremental sales growth at bars and
restaurants last year came from innovation and new brands, compared
to 32% for wine, according to hospitality-industry analyst
GuestMetrics. The danger for beer is that it will become too much
like wine -- so that styles are more important than brands, a risk
that brewers call "winefication."
For wine, there are some bright spots, including growing
availability at Starbucks, Walgreens and even dollar stores. But
other trends are ominous, including underperformance with
Hispanics. Here's a closer look at the category:
New Zealand wine volume sales jumped 23.5% in the 52 weeks ended
Jan. 5, according to Nielsen. Kim Crawford Wines sales jumped 23%
in 2012, according to trade publication Shanken News Daily, citing
Impact Databank. Meanwhile, the sweet-tasting moscato varietal,
while slowing, continues to post impressive numbers -- sales were
up 30.9% in the year ending Jan. 5, according to Nielsen.
Australian wines are struggling, with volume falling 1.6% in the
52 weeks ending Jan. 5, Nielsen reported. Mr. Brager blamed large
surpluses in recent years, which led to cheaper prices that caused
the category to lose its "premium-quality image." In response,
government-run Wine Australia has launched a marketing effort
called "Next Chapter" that spotlights mid-tier and regional Aussie
wines at trade shows such as one recently held in San
WINE IS EVERYWHERE
Wine is popping up in new places. Walgreens and Dollar General
have been particularly aggressive, while Family Dollar is testing
wine. Chipotle, Starbucks and Noodles & Co. are adding wine to
draw more customers and increase check prices. All told, there are
more than 500,000 wine-selling locations in the U.S., a 50,000-spot
jump from five years ago, per Nielsen.
IS IT A WINE OR A BEER?
Talk about mixed drinks. Some brewers are blending wine grapes
into beer, creating concoctions like Blue Moon's Vintage Blond Ale
and Allagash's Victor Ale, made from red grapes. Absolut is selling
Absolut Tune, which mixes vodka and sauvignon blanc.
TROUBLE WITH DEMOGRAPHICS
Wine continues to under-index with Hispanics, according to
Nielsen. "Is it because Hispanics don't embrace wine or is it
because the wine community doesn't embrace Hispanics?" Mr. Brager
said, noting that it's probably a combination of both. Marketers
must get Hispanics to make wine more of an "everyday beverage,"
rather than for special occasions, said Elizabeth Barrutia,
president of Baru Advertising in Los Angeles, which ran an Hispanic
campaign for Beringer in 2010.