French wine exports prove bitter sweet for the industry

The French wine and spirits export body (FEVS), has released export figures for the nation’s wine in 2018. The figures show that shipments of French wine rose to almost 9 billion Euros in 2018. However, they also show a noticeable decline in exports to China.

French wine exports in 2018

French wine exports increased by 2.6% to €8.9bn in 2018. Exports, on the other hand, fell by 4.6% when compared with 2017 in volume terms. This is partly due to the smaller harvest from 2017 in several regions of France due to extreme weather conditions.

The report also shows a decline in French wine exports to China of 25% last year. The value of exports to China is at €555.3 million, which is a decline of 16.4%. FEVS says this is down to the wider global economic conditions and maintains its confidence in China’s long-term potential as a key market for French wine.

Brexit dominates wine export discussions

As the UK moves closer to the date set for its exit from the European Union, it’s unsurprising that this is dominating the conversation within the French wine industry. FEVS director Antoine Leccia is reported to have told the Associated Press that wine producers are in a “total fog” due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s deal with the EU.

There are also some reports of stockpiling in the UK, with EU producers keen to provide extra stock to the UK, and British merchants ordering more supplies as a precaution against disruption.

The FEVs figures show that French wine exports to the UK decreased by 7% in 2018 by volume. However, in purely value terms, exports rise in 2018 by 0.6% to €1.1bn. The UK remains the second biggest destination for wines from France in the world. The number one market is the US, where sales increased by 6.4% to €1.66bn.


A quick guide to wine pairing

Most people who enjoy drinking wine match it with their favourite foods. And while you can, of course, match any food with any wine of your choice, there are some ‘rules’ to point you in the right direction.

So, if you’re not sure which white to serve with your fish, or whether you can have red with chicken, here’s a quick guide to wine matching at home.

Wine pairing for different foods

Pinot Noir: Let’s start with a rich, meaty main. Any dish with deep, earthy flavours such as truffles, mushrooms and beef deserve a delicious wine. Truffles go really well with reds such as Dolcetto and Pinot Noir, because of the wine’s savoury but light-flavoured depth.

Chardonnay: For dishes made with fattier fish, such as salmon or monkfish, look for a Chardonnay. Try one from Chile, Australia or California, which all go well with any kind of seafood in a rich, delicious sauce. Savour the silky lightness of the wine along with the flavourful mouthful of fish.

Dry sparkling wines: Any dry, sparkling wine, such as Prosecco, Cava or Champagne have a tiny hint of sweetness too. This is why they’re very refreshing and delicious when served with salty foods, such as Japanese dishes flavoured with soy and spice.

Cabernet Sauvignon: For lovers of meat, Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Californian Cabernet are great choices. They’re amazing with rich beefy dishes, such as steak, or with lamb chops cooked with herbs and spices. These wines have firm tannins, which give a refreshing mouthful between bites.

Dry Rosé: Cheese lovers know that some varieties go better with red wine, and others with white. But all go well with a nice rosé, which mixes the fruitiness of a red with the balancing acidity of white.

Pinot Grigio: For lighter seafood and fish dishes, with delicate flavours and light aromas, you should choose an equally delicate white wine, such as Italy’s Pinot Grigio or Arneis.

Moscato d’Asti: For fruity desserts, try a moderately sweet sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante or Moscato d’Asti. They really bring out the fruitiness in the dish, rather than emphasising the sugar, giving a lovely balance to a dessert that could be overly sweet.

Off-dry Riesling: Lots of Rieslings, Vouvrays and Gewurtzraminers help to counteract the heat in spicy Indian and Asian dishes, making them perfect for curries and dishes with lots of flavour.

New trade deal to ensure smooth wine sales after Brexit

With Brexit negotiations not yet confirmed by the Government, there is ongoing uncertainty in many sectors. This is particularly the case within the wine and spirit sector, relying as it does on extensive imports and exports.

However, two recent agreements have been signed between the US and the UK to maintain smooth wine and spirit trade after Brexit.

Wine sales to continue seamlessly

Officials from the US say that the ‘continuity’ deals will ensure there is no disruption to wine and spirit trading after the UK leaves the EU. The date set for the UK to leave the block is still 29 March 2019, although some media sources say this could change. For now, negotiations are ongoing between the UK Government and the EU to come to an agreement on exactly what basis the UK will leave.

Both of these new deals were signed in Washington DC by the UK’s US ambassador, Kim Darroch, and the US chief agricultural negotiator Gregg Doud. The agreements are broadly similar to an interim deal struck between Chile and the UK.

The UK remains the fourth biggest market for US wine exports, which was valued at $227 million in 2017 according to figures from the Office of the US Trade Representation (USTR). The trade body announced the two new US/UK deals also. While wine represents a huge export market from the US to the UK, American whiskies have also become more popular over here. This export market is worth $187 million.

A representative from the USTR says: “The US-UK agreement on trade in wine which includes commitments regarding wine-making practices and labelling requirements, will ensure market continuity for bilateral wine trade.”

Post-Brexit wine market uncertain

These bilateral trade agreements between the UK and countries like the US and Chile represent planning for a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit. It’s not yet clear how exports to and from Europe will work post-Brexit, but it’s hoped that buying wine will be just as simple for consumers.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the final Brexit deal will be and how it will affect buying wine online.

Wines to enjoy at Chinese New Year

After all of the festivities surrounding Christmas and New Year, January can feel a bit flat. Luckily, at the start of February, it’s Chinese New Year! Preparations start at the end of January and Chinese New Year officially begins on 5 February this year. And the best thing is that it goes on until 19th February, so there’s plenty of time to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Pig with your own feast.

Chinese food is well known for its flavour combinations and delicious mix of spicy sweetness. But don’t forget that it’s not just about Chinese food. Other countries celebrate their new year at the same time, including Singapore, Laos, Korea and Vietnam. So, there are lots of cuisine choices to try out.

Wines to enjoy at Chinese New Year

If you’ve chosen food from Vietnam for a celebratory meal, then the flavour profile is a bit different to Chinese food. It’s a bit less spicy and sweet than many traditional Chinese meals, and definitely less impactful than Korean dishes. All of which lends itself to a nice white wine to go with it. Gruner veltliner from Austria is a delicious choice, such as the peppery but light Felsner Moosburgerin Gruner Veltliner.

Chinese restaurants, of course, take their wine as seriously as anyone and boast decent wine lists. In London, for example, you’ll find Imperial Treasure, a relatively new high-end Chinese restaurant juts off Pall Mall. Its speciality is Peking duck, that would set you back a decent wedge of money, as would the wine they suggest to go with it – a Cheval Blanc at £2,778!

If you’re considering more of a home-cooked Chinese inspired feast, or a takeaway from your favourite restaurant, then there are plenty of wines that work well. If you tend to stick with classic Chinese dishes, such as sweet-and-sour chicken, which can be difficult to match, you could go for a fruity white wine like Fruit Orchestra Chenin Blanc Viognier 2018.

Other wines for Chinese food

While many people automatically go for white with their Chinese meal, it’s always possible to find a nice red to enjoy. Go for a smooth, medium bodied red as a decent choice. A bottle of sparkling wine or champagne can also offset your Chinese New Year feast, particularly if you like to have lots of dim sum snacks.

Try a New Zealand Pinot Gris with its hint of sweetness to go with traditional Chinese food. If you’re opting for a banquet with all the courses, then a Californian Riesling would take you all the way through.

Trends that could influence how consumers choose to buy wine in 2019

The trend for veganism is showing no signs of going away in 2019, and it influences how people buy wine as well as food. It has already taken hold of the hospitality industry, with many restaurants, pubs and cafes widening their menu choices. So, will it move even more strongly into the drinks industry this year?

Vegan wine is just one industry trend that we’re likely to see more of throughout 2019. Here are some more trends that will influence the way we buy, enjoy and choose wine.

Trends that will change the way consumers buy wine

There will be an increase in demand for lighter reds, with a fruity base and a delicate twist. Many premium wine lists already include Chinon and Cabernet Franc from the Loire region, but the latest trend shows that many more will feature Cabernet Francs from different global regions. It’s likely to include Cabernet Francs from countries as diverse as Canada, North America, South Africa and Chile.

More wines are showing on premium lists from Uruguay, showing a continuing interest in the Americas that moves beyond Argentina, the United States and Chile. The most popular variety from Uruguay is Tannat, but there is also a lot of interest in sparkling, dessert, white and other ed wines.

There’s also an uptick in interest for Canadian still red wines, with a third of premium wine lists now including these. They’re premium wines, with a price starting at about £60 a bottle, and are part of a general shift towards more expensive wines.

Turning towards Europe, while wines from Tuscany and Piedmont have always been popular, there is a distinct trend for indigenous white grapes from Italy. Lots of interesting grapes across the country are making wines with impressive provenance.

The growth of veganism

During 2018, the number of vegans in the UK increased to 3.5 million and is rising all the time. This has led to more vegan wines coming into the spotlight, and around a tenth of restaurants and bars now include vegan-friendly wines on their lists.

We will definitely see this trend continue as more consumers become focused on what the drink and eat. Throughout 2019 and the next few years, we will see more vegan-friendly wines online, in shops and throughout the hospitality industry.

New focus on lesser known regions

Croatian wine is becoming more popular in the UK, with one of the most well-known indigenous varieties, Malvazija Istriana, gaining traction. Over in France, two lesser known wine producing regions are becoming more well known. These are Jura and Savoie, which already feature on at least half of premium wine lists in the UK.

As Savoie is near to the Swiss border and various ski resorts, these wines have become more popular while not being exported as much. The indigenous grapes produce beautiful light wines, which are good value for money.

Why wine lovers go to Sardinia

Now Christmas is over, and the festive period is a distant memory, many people are looking for the perfect summer holiday. And where better than Sardinia for wine lovers? Here’s why the second-largest Mediterranean island is ideal for lovers of the grape.

A wine lovers paradise

First thing’s first. The pace of life in Sardinia is laid back and slow. It’s ideal for a relaxed tour around the wine hotspots, and even better if you want to go off the beaten track. Packed with long, windy roads leading to wine-related treats, Sardinia packs a punch for holiday makers.

As well as white, sandy beaches, glorious weather and a rugged landscape, there’s plenty of wine treasure to discover in Sardinia too. Start your holiday tour in the northeast part of Sardinia, near the cities of Olbia and Santa Tersea. This region is built on granite-based soils, which lead to the production of Vermentino di Gallura. This beautifully delicate, pale white wine is light, bright and refreshing, packed with green apple, ripe pear and citrusy flavours. It’s also the only wine in Sardinia that has achieved the DOCG, the highest rank of Italian wine classification.

The grapes used for Vermentino soak up the sun reflected from the sea, and so can be found facing north. This gives the vines a cooling balance to the very hot weather in the region. As there is plenty of wind, and temperatures dip during the night, the wine has lots of acidity.

Discover Sardinian wineries

In the northwest of Sardinia, there’s the old-fashioned seaside town of Alghero, which has plenty of Spanish influence. Here you’ll find one of the biggest and most lauded Sardinian wineries in the country, Sella & Mosca.

There are more than 1000 acres of vineyards laid out between the hills and the sea. As the soil is limestone and therefore rich with calcium carbonate, it’s an ideal place for viticulture.

A hidden gem that can be found in Alghero is the Torbato grape. There are only 200 acres or so left of this in the world, and the rare grape makes delicious pale white wine, which has hints of white flowers. All varieties are delicious with oysters, seafood and light fish dishes.

To the south of Alghero, you’ll find Bosa, which is home to the world-renowned Malvasia di Bosa grape. The most common version is a sweet Malvasia, packed with chamomile and honeysuckle aromas and a distinct almond flavour.

No matter which part of the island you’re holidaying in, there are loads of wine-related options to make it the best ‘winecation’ ever!

Searching out French wine trends in 2019

As 2019 continues to unfold, it’s fascinating to find out from wine experts which wine trends they expect to see this year. In this blog, we’re looking at French wine trends for 2019 in particular, and finding out which grape varieties, wine styles and regions will be successful.

Consumer concerns impact French wine trends

With an increasing focus on the environmental impact of the wine industry, we can expect to see fairtrade, organic and responsible farming to increase. Nicolas Emereau, director of Alliance Loire says: “People are concerned about wine’s environmental impact, and also additives. In 2019, we should rediscover the wines from the cool French regions: Burgundy, Alsace and Loire Valley have their role to play. The main thing, in my mind, will be the reds. With the 2018 vintage, we could change the ideas that many people have about reds from northern regions.”

White French wines popular in the UK

As well as an increased interest in reds from northern France, the love affair between UK consumers and French white wines will continue. British wine lovers are turning more towards lighter, more expressive whites.

Deputy director of Central-Loire Valley Wines, Edouard Mognetti, says: “British consumers love white wines, and especially Sauvignon Blanc. I’m confident this love affair will continue in 2019. What is changing, however, is that they are no longer just looking for a wine: they are looking for stories, for expertise, for terroir.”

Mr Mognetti says that Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Centre-Loire region fulfils this: “As British wine drinkers increasingly turn to lighter but expressive wines, they will also enjoy exploring single varietal Pinot Nor and blends of Pinot and Gamay.”

Higher altitude wines more popular

According to Gabirle Meffre’s export manager, Anthony Taylor, varieties of wines in the Côtes du Rhône region are becoming more popular. He says: “Clairette is enjoying renewed interest, and also Bourboulenc, thanks to its brisk acidity. The Rhône Valley will become more popular, with a focus on higher altitude wines, such as those from Dentelles, Ventoux and St Péray.He also expects to see a shift towards “elegant, crisp whites with good minerality”, and for reds, trends will include vibrant, fresh and juicy styles.

We can also expect an upsurge in high quality pale rosé wines throughout 2019, according to the chief agronomist at Foncalieu, Gabriel Reutsch. He expects… “single varietal Versant Grenache rose from the IGP Pay’s d’Oc or the Piquepoul rosé, which uses the forgotten grape variety Piquepoul Noir to make a modern style wine” to be popular.

The importance of sustainability

Whether consumers are buying wine online, or heading to taster sessions at wine makers, there is an increasing focus on sustainability. The director of Domaine Grand Mayne, Mathieu Crosnier, goes as far as to say that sustainability is more important than the vineyard’s name.

He says: “The time when the quality of the wine or the name of the vineyard were the most important thing is over. Now, consumers want to drink quality with the assurance of sustainability. The finesse, the freshness, the balance of the wines are a lot more important than the varieties of the grape.” For Mr Crosnier, character and identity are vital for consumers. He points towards the south-west region of France as popular due to its identity-driven vineyards.


Buying wine in 2019 – upcoming industry trade fairs around the world

While buying wine is often based on individual consumer choices, the wider industry does affect upcoming buyer trends. Throughout 2019, there are a number of industry events and wine fairs that will be showcasing what’s new, what’s popular and what’s worth tasting in 2019.

Buying wine in 2019: industry events

The suitably glamourous destination of Cannes, France hosts the annual Pink Rose Festival. This year it will be held on 7 and 8 February and continues to be the only industry show dedicated solely to all things rose.

It’s relatively new on the scene, as it launched in 2017. The event differs from many industry shows as it doesn’t focus solely on producers showing their wares. It also facilitates connections between wine buyers and producers, including one-to-one meetings during the two days. Every wine producer is given at least 16 tailored appointments with potential buyers, an approach which aims to shift the traditional model. The show focuses on three main events: The Tasting Zone, the Masterclass Theatre and the Pink Rose Festival Awards.

Two become one in Paris

Also in February (11 to 13), Wine Paris brings together two well established wine trade shows. VinoVision and ViniSud are joining up under the name Wine Paris for the first time in 2019.

ViniSud concentrates on wines from the Mediterranean southern coast area of France and VinoVision shows off wines from the cooler norther climes. This includes wine producers from the Loire, Champagne, Jura, Alsace, Burgundy and Beaujolais. With 1,300 exhibitors and an expected visitor count of 25,000 it looks set to be popular and useful for buyers looking to understand an extensive range of wines from different regions.

Quarter century anniversary for German show

ProWein is due to celebrate its 25th anniversary with its March event situated in Dusseldorf. It’s one of the biggest wine trade shows in the world and welcomes more than 60,000 professionals from the wine industry. Around 7,000 exhibitors from every major wine region across the globe are represented.

In Italy, the biggest trade-only show in the world will mark its 53rd event in April 2019. Each year, more than 130,000 visitors meet over 4,000 exhibitors to discuss all things wine. There are tasting sessions for wines from every part of Italy, from Sicily to Tuscany, Veneto to Campania and much more. Last year, 128,000 people from 143 countries came to the show.

Here in the UK, the Wine & Spirits Show is planning its second ever event at the Horseguards Hotel, London in April. It’s aimed at wine lovers based in London and expects to welcome about 1,500 members of the wine buying public. One of the halls is dedicated purely to wine, while the other concentrates on spirits, and both halls will feature a New Products Zone to inform buyers of emerging trends this year.

London Wine Fair returns

This year marks the 39th edition of the London Wine Fair, hosted in Kensington. It’s the biggest wine exhibition in the UK and attracts all kinds of exhibitors. These range from large, generic bodies to UK importers, right the way through to individual start-ups looking for representation.

Attendance in 2018 was 17% up on the year before, with 26% of those visiting for the first time. It will again include an Innovation Zone, to showcase new exhibitors, products and tech new for this year.

These are just some of the events happening all around the world in 2019, promising an exciting year for wine lovers everywhere.



How to keep enjoying wine by saving a spoiled bottle

Over the festive period, most people enjoy a few bottles of wine. Whether it’s a dinner party, New Year’s Eve bash or one of the many holiday celebrations, the chances are you have too.

And finding out a favourite bottle has gone off is always disappointing. It’s easy to tell when a wine has been tainted – as soon as you take a sip, you’ll just know. But instead of pouring it down the sink or throwing it away, there is a wine hack that can save it for another day. All you need is a penny.

Enjoying wine the day after a party

The American Chemical Society says that you can save your wine with a penny. The most important thing to do is make sure the penny is as clean as possible before you put it in your wine. When it’s definitely clean, drop it in your wine and let science do the work.

It’s all down to the copper in the coin reacting to the sulphur molecules generated in wine during fermentation. These molecules form ‘thiol’ compounds and make copper sulphide crystals. As these crystals are odourless, they react with the spoiled wine and get rid of the tainted smell and flavour.

Other uses for leftover wine

If you don’t want to drop a coin in your wine, there are still plenty of options for wine that’s not at its best. Here are just a few examples of things to do with wine that isn’t quite good enough to drink:

  1. Marinate your dinner

Probably the most common use for red wine that’s past its peak, marinades are the perfect way to add more flavour to your dinner. There are plenty of recipes for savoury red wine marinades for steak and meat dishes, as well as white wine options for chicken and vegetables.

  1. Use red wine as a dye

A more unusual use for leftover red wine is to dye some fabric. While spilling red wine on a tablecloth or white shirt is normally something to avoid, you can use it to die large pieces of fabric, such as tablecloths, t-shirts and sheets. All you need is a decent sized pot, an oven and red wine.

  1. Make wine burgers

Rather than using the wine as a marinade, this recipe is for burgers with wine in them. The red wine is cooked down with dark sugar and then used as a rub for the burgers. Merlot, Cabernet and Spanish red wines are all good choices for a delicious wine burger.

You can also use leftover wine to make jam, as a reduction for a dessert, to make vinegar and even as a cleaner. Just don’t throw it away!

Increasing number of consumers buying wine online

Many consumers now buy goods and services online. The world is ever more connected, and there are more new ways to shop than ever before. Despite this, just 21% of UK consumers reported buying wine online in a report from analytics company Profitero.

The report shows that the UK leads Europe in buying wine online and comes in behind China at 27% and Japan at 22%. Interestingly, the global average was just 8% according to the Global Connected Commerce report in 2016, which included more than 30,000 people across 63 countries.

Buying wine online still has huge potential

All of this means that wine is one of the least popular categories to buy online. This in turn means that there is plenty of opportunity for innovative start-ups to change this.

Most people who buy wine online are from older generations, who turn to trusted websites and names. Millennials and younger generations are drinking a third of the market out in bars and restaurant, rather than at home. This perceived gap in the market has led to some companies coming up with specific apps for wine buyers.

Enhancing buyer experience

Sipp is an app that uses augmented reality (AR) to combine tools to help people understand wine as well as buy it. The app was developed by a company that wanted to use innovative tech such as voice recognition and AR. It’s still in the crowdfunding stage in terms of developing the tech necessary to provide a fully immersive experience.

This app is specifically aimed at millennials who don’t necessarily have much knowledge of the market or the wines they are drinking. Ideal Wine Company is the ideal way for knowledgeable wine buyers to shop, as well as people interested in fine wines and wine investment.

The idea behind apps like Sipp expand the buying experience into wine education. For example, consumers can scan the labels of the bottles they buy and access information concerning where it comes from, the food it goes with and its ideal serving temperature. Other apps that are focusing on wine education include Living Wine Label, which gives consumers information on the wine behind the label.