A recent Nielsen market survey found that when it comes to wine, Brits' brand loyalty is weak, with 79 percent of those surveyed reporting that they switch brands regularly and aren't loyal to any one brand. The same study also found that British wine drinkers are among the most experimental. It seems as if a lot of that experimentation is happening at the bottom-bottom shelf, though, as British wine drinkers are scooping up and guzzling down crap costing under £3 (about US $4.50) like it's nobody's business.
Sales of wine costing between £1 and £3 are up 130 percent in Britain over the past year as supermarkets and discount shops duke it out for the lowest price point. Wines costing between £4 to £5 and £5 to £6, meanwhile, are both down 3 percent.
To be sure, there's a time and place in life for cheap booze. Chances are, if you're reading this, you're there right now. Some of it can be drinkable—Two-Buck Chuck has gotten many of us through the trials and tribulations of young adult life. Box wine is no longer a guaranteed sign of poor quality. Maybe the price wars in Britain have gotten so intense that there are actually some steals to be had for under £3. After all, you can pick up a bottle of surprisingly good stuff on the cheap in some European countries. But a bottle of red for $2.50 has never been a safe bet.
No word on what the under-£3 crowd tastes like, but for now it's apparently keeping people coming back. That, or perhaps they're committing one of the faux pas that a recent study of British wine drinkers have admitted to making, such as the third of respondents who admitted to gulping their wine and the nearly 40 percent who store their reds in the fridge.
While the growth in sales of cheap stuff is immense, more expensive wines are certainly selling well. Richard Cochrane, managing director of Félix Solís Avantis UK, which imports about one in four bottles of Spanish wine into Britain, told Off Licence News that slightly up the ladder, above £6, things looked good, too.
And if they're willing, the British could always opt to purchase an excellent, if expensive, sparkling wine produced within their own borders. They may find themselves in the future increasingly looking to their native wines, which some say have already benefitted from the effects of climate change. As the Earth heats up, wine-producing regions are poised to move north, with England being, potentially, a beneficiary of the shifting weather.