Americans can't get enough of moscato, a rosé renaissance is in full flow, and the red blends boom is big news in 2013, according to the latest U.S. sales analysis.
However, chardonnay remains the most popular varietal Stateside, accounting for around one in five bottles sold. Nielsen figures released at Vinexpo today showed sales of the aromatic white varietal have once again increased – by more than 20 percent in the 12 months to May 25, 2013.
Rosé is also enjoying renewed popularity among American wine drinkers, with sales of pinks priced at more than $12 per bottle growing by more than 20 percent in volume and value in the past year.
Blended wines are also continuing to increase. Danny Brager, senior vice president of beverage alcohol practice at Nielsen, said: "Blended products are popping up on the scene everywhere and their growth is unmistakable. A lot of it is domestic blends."
Why is blended wine becoming so popular? "It gives the winemaker a lot of flexibility and consumers seem to be really attracted to it – in particular younger consumers, who are probably less concerned with what's in the bottle," Brager explained.
And it's not just existing wine drinkers who are enjoying these fashionable styles. "They're bringing in demographics that aren't typically large wine buyers: they're bringing in younger drinkers and attracting Hispanics and African-Americans," said Brager.
The creation of new wine drinkers has certainly helped the U.S. wine market in the last year. Sales increased by 5 percent in value and 2 percent in volume. However, there have been some losers. The growth in moscato is at the expense of riesling sales, while Brager noted the rise in red blends has negatively affected the popularity of pinot noir and malbec.
And although the wine market figures are encouraging, most of the growth has come from some of the 5,800 new wines on U.S. retail shelves.
"Over the past two years we are reporting close to 6,000 new line items," Brager said. "But if you remove all the volumes associated with new items, the growth rate would be minus 2.6 [percent], so new items continue to fuel growth in the category."
It's not just retailers that have been enjoying the ringing of cash registers. U.S. diners are also feeling flush. The average price of a glass of wine in bars and restaurants across the country is around $10 – representing a small increase in recent years – but it is bottle prices that have risen more significantly.
"The average price [in bars and restaurants] is around $46 a bottle, which is up from less than $40 a couple of years ago," Brager confirmed.