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Drinking trends for 2024: Rising wine prices, more low- and no-alcohol drinks and reduced overall consumption

How to Drink Better: John Wilson offers his predictions for the drinks industry

What will we be drinking in 2024? If 2023 is anything to go by, will we be imbibing less but better, and choosing from a wider variety of drinks than ever?

I suspect we will be paying more for our wine in 2024. Midpriced wines, those between €15 and €25, seem to have been increasing rapidly over the past few years. Wines that once cost about €15 jumped to €20-€23, and those at €20-€25 jumped to €30 or more.

Regions that once offered great value for money now seem relatively expensive. Wine producers have been faced with price increases for everything from bottles, labels, corks and packaging, as well as rising costs for electricity and staff. We want our favourite producers to stay in business, but many increases seem to outstrip inflation.

We consumers are faced with similar increases, so the amount of money we have available to spend on wine is declining. At the same time, prices for the most expensive wines have been stagnating if not dropping as wealthy consumers become less willing to spend €200-€300 or much more on a single bottle.

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We will probably be drinking less wine. Consumption in traditional producer countries such as France, Spain and Italy has been dropping for decades now. More worrying for some companies is the recent steep decline of wine sales in the US and UK, two key markets. This is partly down to a drop in overall alcohol consumption by younger people, but also because of increased competition from other drinks such as spirits.

We have a group of incredibly inventive craft beer and cider producers in this country. They really deserve our support

I can see this trend increasing in 2024, with many consumers more interested in alternative spirit-based drinks. At the same time, a younger generation will continue to drink less, so we will be offered an increasing range of alcohol-free drinks.

Wine producers are trying to adapt to the changing climate. Temperatures are rising all over the world, meaning the harvest in many regions is starting earlier than ever before. Less rainfall means increased demand for irrigation and many areas are suffering from water shortages. In addition, growers in some countries have been hit by wildfires, flash flooding, and increased hail and frost. On the plus side, cooler countries are starting to plant grapes and make wine – including Ireland.

Overall, in 2024 I think more of us will go for low- or no-alcohol drinks some or all of the time. I hope that, despite inflation, we will continue to drink less but better. We have a group of incredibly inventive craft beer and cider producers in this country. They really deserve our support. We also have an amazing range of home-produced spirits. Abroad, almost every wine producing country, and Europe in particular, seems to have a band of young creative producers making a fascinating array of high-quality wines. Overall, in 2024 I believe we will have an even more diverse range of interesting drinks, but we may have to be prepared to pay a little more for them.

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