Sales of wine in the US hit a new record in 2012, spurred on by drinkers' growing thirst for Moscato.
Figures released by the California-based Wine Institute show that Moscato sales rose by a third in volume last year in US chain retailers, excluding bars and restaurants.
The grape variety, which has been talked up by hip-hop stars such as Lil’ Kim and Kanye West, now commands a 6% share of wine bought in retail chains, where it is more popular than Sauvignon Blanc and only two percentage share points behind Pinot Grigio.
Moscato’s rise, based largely on the lower-alcohol, lightly sparkling style, helped overall wine sales in the US to rise by 2% in 2012, to 360.1m cases. Sales rose by 5% in value, to US$34.6bn.
‘It is likely that American [wine] consumption will continue to expand over the next decade,’ said wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson, of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.
He cited strong demographics and better distribution, noting too that Facebook Gifts and Amazon have both moved into online wine sales. Direct wine shipping is now allowed in 39 US states.
‘Consumers have more access to wine with wine-selling locations expanding by well over 50,000 from five years ago,’ added Danny Brager, vice president of beverage alcohol practice at Nielsen.
California accounted for 58% of wine sales by volume and close to 64% of sales by value in the US last year.
Other varietals performing well in chain retailers included Malbec, which saw volume sales rise by a fifth in this channel off a low base. Sweet red wine is also considered a style to watch.
Written by Chris Mercer in California