Kingsland Drinks

There’s a wave of cautious optimism about Christmas 2021 with many Brits hoping for a return to traditional festivities, parties, dinners and gatherings. As retailers and the hospitality sector gear up and stock up, Kingsland Drinks’ head of marketing, brand and insights Charles Overin, shares his predictions for the wines set to win this season, looking at rosé prosecco and crémant, alternative formats, hidden gem wines, and sustainability.

Season’s sparkling

Rosé DOC Prosecco has really been the drink of 2021 and we’re expecting great things from it this Christmas. It’s likely to be a top seller as it’s the first full Christmas period since it became legal in the UK in November 2020. Our partner producer, Borgo Molino, has got off to a great start in the UK, with bottles of Corte Molino Rose flying of Co-op shelves so we’re well prepared for the festive season as it’s such an affordable, celebratory, fun wine. Prosecco overall is in growth, growing in value 14.5 percent, while total sparkling is up 19 percent in value*.

Crémant has also seen growth in recent years and is up 70 percent in value compared to this time last year*. It’s an excellent value alternative to Champagne; our Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire (Waitrose, £12.99), and new Crémant de Jura Caveau des Jacobins (Majestic, £17.99) are great examples and set to be popular choices for Christmas celebrations.

Go big and go small

Pandemic restrictions saw consumers explore the bag in box wine format and it looks like that is a trend that is here to stay, following changes to shopping habits, lifestyles, budgets and drinking occasions. Wine shoppers have come into the BIB category over recent years, and while the country was under Covid restrictions,  many have recognised the benefits of BIB and are likely to continue purchasing and embracing the benefits over the busy Christmas season.  The UK bag in box category is currently worth £355 million, and has grown eight percent over the last 52 weeks*. New consumers have appreciated the quality, convenience and value for money that boxed wine brings, as well as the lasting freshness for weeks once it is opened. Boxed wine also brings environmental and sustainability benefits – important for the industry and for consumers taking steps to make more eco-friendly choices.

Magnums are also a popular choice at Christmas – they bring a real sense of occasion and are suitable for gifting too. The Tourmaline Côtes de Provence Rosé magnum in Waitrose (RRP £25.99) from our partner producer, Barton and Guestier comes in a stylish bottle showing the pink hue of the wine, and is a lively, contemporary rosé and a great accompaniment to seasonal starters or for group gatherings.

Smaller formats are also tipped to win in the run up to Christmas – canned alcoholic drinks are perfect for group gatherings, especially among younger generations who prefer informal, convenient, affordable and fun drinks. They’re portable, can be consumed directly from the can, and can be disposed of and recycled easily. While they only account for a small percentage of the category at the moment, brands are working to bring in new shoppers and to create a loyal fan base. With growth of canned wines currently up 52 percent in value year on year*, we’re confident Christmas will be a key period for cans.

Brands like Vin Crowd and Mix Up are great options for party-goers who may be shopping for drinks to take with them to enjoy with friends, or for on their way to a festive gathering. They’re looking for uncomplicated drinks that stand out through attractive packaging, taste great, and suit informal drinking occasions. Both brands are vegan friendly, clearly signposted on the packaging, which taps into a macro trend for products created without the use of animal products. And we also ensure within the production of these products that no single use plastics are used, making both brands eco-friendly. In addition, they fit into trends for lower abv (5% abv) and lower calorie drinks.

Hidden gems

European wines really shine at Christmas and we’re expecting great things from new styles and new varietals. The classics, such as Rioja, are always popular at this time of year, as consumers often look for something a bit more special and they are willing to spend that little bit extra. Baron de Ley Reserva (£11.00 Co-op) is well-placed as a premium purchase over the festive season for Christmas meals, group gatherings and celebrations.

In addition, for a more everyday purchase, wines such as Campaneo Old Vines Garnacha from the Campo de Borja region, are a great value alternative to Rioja wines (Tesco, £5.00).

During the pandemic, we’ve observed changing shopper behaviours and how
consumers are taking a leap into the unexpected, branching out into with wines from Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. This part of the world is often overlooked when it comes to wine production but huge strides have been made among winemakers striving to elevate the quality credentials of their wines and become internationally recognised, appreciated and celebrated.

This Christmas, we’ll see some great wines launching from Bulgaria, and we’ve entered new partnership with the second largest and one of the most awarded Romanian wine producers – The Iconic Estate, member of the Alexandrion Group. We will supply a comprehensive Romanian range to the UK retail and hospitality sectors at three price points under three distinctive brands – Rhea, Byzantium, and Hyperion – and we’re confident these, and other Eastern European wines, will be on everyone’s lips over the festive season.

Sustainability season

Sustainability is a watchword when it comes to wine – for the packaging, sourcing, transportation and production. The consumer is increasingly switched on and Covid has only accelerated interest in drinks that deliver both in terms of taste and quality, but also present the opportunity to buy into a brand that’s dedicated to reduce its footprint.

Australian wine producers have some excellent ranges in the market, and innovations and projects in the pipeline which meet these needs head on. Andrew Peace Wines, Australia, have really gone from strength to strength during the pandemic thanks to the accessibility of the wines, and clearly defined sustainability ambitions. The Murray River winery is committed to minimising its impact on the environment, improving the sustainability of its operations and has become a member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia with the aim of having the facility certified within the next six months.

Additionally, we are proud to be working with The Hidden Sea to bring their exciting range of wines to the UK. The Hidden Sea launched a global campaign with ReSea Project to protect the world’s oceans and remove one billion plastic bottles from the ocean by 2030 and the wines are available in many retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Asda.We’re anticipating a big Christmas, with all the build-up, gatherings, dinners and celebrations, as people missed out on Christmas 2020 festivities. The Covid-19 pandemic has been an accelerator for some trends and has brought challenges for others, but the drinks industry has shown itself to be resilient, agile and has responded to new consumer preferences, tastes, lifestyles and budgets with innovative products to keep the market lively, and top-quality favourites that wine drinkers know and love.

• IRI, 52 weeks to w/e 8th August 2021