2012 was a turbulent year in the wine industry with poor weather resulting in global production falling to its lowest level in forty years; and the struggling economy hitting both ends of the market. There are knock-on effects for all UK wine lovers - whether it's those shopping for fine wines for the cellar or those looking for a good deal in the supermarket.
Here are some predictions on what to expect and what we'll all be drinking in the year ahead:
Can Bordeaux Recover?
At the top end of the market, expect Bordeaux and Burgundy to lose market share - but for very different reasons. Demand for the best Burgundies has never been higher, but a series of small vintages means there just isn't enough to go round. Bordeaux has the opposite problem. 2012 was a year when the claret bubble began to burst as wine lovers baulked at the prices being asked for the good (but not great) 2011 vintage. Unless Bordeaux can find a way to re-engage with drinkers by making the wines affordable, then regions such as the Rhone and Italy, which can offer both value for money and wines that are ready to drink, will continue to grow.
The end of sub-£5 wines
At the other end of the market, duty increases (we have the highest in Europe) and small vintages will push the average bottle of wine over £5. This may be no bad thing. The basic costs of production, distribution and - most importantly of all - tax, means no-one makes any money selling wine at low prices, least of all those in the vineyard. In fact, only 11p of every £5 bottle goes towards the cost of the actual wine. If you make one alcohol-based New Year's Resolution, make it to spend a couple of extra pounds when you pick up a bottle in your local supermarket or independent wine merchant. You'll be rewarded by a jump in quality.
New grapes to look out for
The bottles on offer in supermarkets will be changing too. The awful European summer in 2012 meant small harvests across the continent, and this will have two major consequences. Firstly prices will rise and secondly, famous regions such as Rioja, Chianti and Sancerre will run short of juice. Expect to see some brilliant deals on South African wines instead and look out for unusual but delicious grapes such as Fiano, Picpoul and Bobal as retailers look to plug the gaps on the shelves.
Better wine in pubs, bars and restaurants
In pubs, bars and restaurants we'll see even better wine being sold by the glass as operators realise that selling a smaller measure of something exciting makes more sense than selling 250ml buckets of cheap wine. The customer gets to drink something they might actually enjoy, the price per glass will be affordable, and the overall experience is better. Everyone wins.
Sweet will sell
Finally, look out for sweeter wines in 2013. No longer just something to have with dessert, or the preserve of the Californian rosé-drinking masses, sweet and off-dry wines will become more mainstream and socially acceptable. Moscato will lead the trend, but there is a great opportunity for grapes such as Riesling too. The phenomenal success of Prosecco shows that a little bit of sugar helps the wine go down and drinkers will enjoy sweeter styles more and more in 2013.Suggest a correction