What’s hot and what’s not: Wine sales in 2012
The answers are probably surprising to those of you who aren’t regular visitors here. Syrah and shiraz? If you like those wines, you don’t want to know. Sweet red wine? Do you even have to ask?
More, after the jump:
The sales figures cover the 52-week period ending Jan. 5, 2013 and include grocery and warehouse stores like Costco. They’re the same numbers the wine companies and distributors use to chart sales; I got a copy from someone who does just that, but who requested anonymity.
A couple of caveats: Liquor and wine stores aren’t included, and neither are state stores. So that means places like New York (no grocery store sales) and Pennsylvania (state stores) aren’t counted, with the appropriate effect on numbers. Second, even though you personally may not approve of these wines, 20 percent of Americans drink 80 percent of the wine that is sold. So most of us are probably drinking some of these or know someone who is.
• Chardonnay remains the most popular varietal, outselling cabernet sauvignon by about 17 percent in dollar terms. The most popular chardonnay remains Kendall-Jackson, selling more than twice as much as the No. 2 chardonnay, Clos du Bois.
• Merlot is no longer the second-best selling red wine varietal, falling six percent behind pinot noir. Call it the Mark West effect – sales of the $10 grocery pinot increased 18.5 percent over the year.
• The sweet wine craze did nothing for riesling, which saw sales fall 4.9 percent, or white zinfandel, which shrank 11.4 percent. Seven of the top 10 white zinfandels had double digit sales declines.
• Where did the white zinfandel drinkers go? To sweet red, for one, which saw sales rise by as much as 23.7 percent. It gets a little tricky here, since the category is called other red blends and not all the wines are sweet. But six of the top 10 labels are sweet, and they showed spectacular growth – Apothic, up 66.1 percent; Cupcake up 49.7 percent and Dreaming Tree Crush (from rock star Dave Matthews) up 869.7 percent. Interestingly, only Cupcake admits it’s a sweet wine.
• Moscato sales were up 34.6 percent, but it was an odd performance. The top two brands both declined in sales, and one brand – Sutter Home Pink Moscato – was up an incredible 558.2 percent. If that’s not cannibalizing the company’s white zinfandel sales, which were down 13.6 percent, than I should give this up and go back to sportswriting.
• Syrah/shiraz didn’t suffer as badly as white zinfandel, but it did badly enough – sales were down 15.6 percent and eight of the top 10 brands had sales declines.