WSTA wine report: UK sparkling boom

Sparkling wine sales in the UK grew 12% last year, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) wine report for 2017.

This means that since 2012, sales of sparkling wine and champagne have soared by 72%, up from 112m bottles to around 156m.

Overall, the UK is the sixth largest sparkling wine market in the world, and the largest market for champagne outside of France.

Chief executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said: “Our wine report for 2017 shows that Brits’ thirst for sparkling wine continues to grow, and also underlines the value of the wine trade to the UK economy.

“Over two thirds of UK trade in wine is with the EU, and the question of how to keep the UK at the heart of the world wine trade post-Brexit is key if we want to see continued growth in years to come.

Recent reports suggest that the UK is also the largest export market for Italian sparkling wine by both volume and growth, showing our thirst for bubbles continues to grow.

Despite this growth, the WSTA has warned that Britain’s wine trade is facing major challenges in the wake of the decision to leave the European Union.

Beale added: “The WSTA view is crystal clear. Brexit negotiations must avoid disruption to existing trade, a view that is strongly supported by our colleagues in the EU wine and spirit trade.

“We are working together to forge a plan that keeps our historic trade flows intact, regardless of any posturing - either in Westminster or Brussels.” 

According to the WSTA, the recent devaluation of the pound after the Referendum has led to rising import costs, which has resulted in higher prices and contributed to rising inflation.

The association also says that this is a problem for the UK, as more than 99% of all wine drunk in Britain is imported, with about half of that wine coming from Europe.  

Key findings of the report, released August 2:

  • Wine is the most commonly drunk alcoholic drink in the UK, with 60% of UK adults drinking wine
  • The UK wine industry makes a total contribution to the UK Treasury of £9.1bn
  • New Zealand, Argentina and Chile have seen the largest growth in the UK market in the last year
  • Sparkling wine and Champagne sales in 2016 increased 18% by volume and 7% by value in pubs, bars and restaurants, to just under 24m bottles worth £485m
  • Britain imported more than 1.8bn bottles of wine in 2016 (still and sparkling).