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Changing German wine market offers opportunities

Market Bulletin | Issue 127
03 Oct 2018
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Germany is the world’s biggest imported wine market and fourth biggest wine market overall. While it is a stable and mature market, new opportunities are being created in the German wine market by increasing involvement, some trading up and greater consumer openness to experiment with new and different styles of wine.

The adult population in Germany in 2017 totalled 66.2 million people. According to Wine Intelligence, of these, 44.2 million (67 per cent) drink wine at least once a year, 27.5 million (42 per cent) drink at least once a month and 19.5 million (30 per cent) drink wine weekly.

According to the International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR), in 2017 there were 276 million cases of wine sold in Germany of which 51 per cent were imported wines. Since peaking at 297 million cases in 2007, wine sales have fallen by an average rate of 0.8 per cent per year (see Figure 1). Sales of local wines have fallen by 0.6 per cent per year while imports have declined at a faster rate of 1 per cent per annum.

Figure 1: German wine market over time (million cases)

Source: ISWR

The German market is very price conscious with 71 per cent of still wine sales at the value or low-end of the market at under €3 per bottle (roughly the equivalent of under A$5 per bottle). Premium to prestige wine sales, at €7.50 per bottle and above (the equivalent of A$12 and above), represent 2.5 per cent of the still wine sales. In 2017, there were declines at the bottom- and top-end of the market. Sales below €3 per bottle declined by 0.3 per cent while sales above €15 per bottle fell by 1.9 per cent. There was growth at the mid-range and premium price segments. Sales between €3.00 and €7.49 per bottle grew by 0.5 per cent and those at €7.50 to €14.99 per bottle also increased by 0.5 per cent, albeit off a much lower base.

Figure 2: Still wine sales in Germany by price point, 2017

Source: IWSR

The price profile of the German market reflects where Germans buy their wines. According to Wine Intelligence, 58 per cent of regular wine drinkers purchased wine in a supermarket (e.g. Rewe, Edeka), 45 per cent in a discounter (e.g. Aldi, Lidl) and 43 per cent in a hyper-market (e.g. Kaufland, Marktkauf). In comparison, 32 per cent purchased wine from a specialist wine store.

Still red wine is the biggest category in the German market just ahead of still white wine. However, while red wine sales declined by 1 per cent, white wine sales increased by 1 per cent. According to Euromonitor International, white wine is perceived as being healthier. German consumers are increasingly focussed om drinking less alcohol with fewer calories but not at the expense of flavour. White wine is a beneficiary of this trend.

Champagne is the fastest growing category with sales up 2.7 per cent, but it has only a 0.4 per cent share of the market. On the other hand, other sparkling wine is the third biggest category in the German market (a large proportion is the locally made Sekt) and sales declined by 1 per cent.

Figure 3: Wine sales in Germany by category, 2017

Source: Euromonitor International.

Wine Intelligence research indicates that grape variety is the number one choice cue among regular wine drinkers in Germany. However, this varies by age group. For the younger consumers (legal drinking age to 24 and 25–34 years of age), a recommendation by family or friends is the number one choice cue, reflecting the lack of wine knowledge for the younger demographic. Grape variety is the number one choice cue for those aged 35–44 and 55 and over. Taste or wine style descriptors is the number one cue for the 45–54 age bracket.

Source: Wine Intelligence


Riesling is the dominant white variety. According to Wine Intelligence, 55 per cent of regular wine drinkers drink Riesling ahead of Chardonnay (45 per cent), Müller-Thurgau1 (38 per cent), Pinot Gris/Grigio (36 per cent) and Sauvignon Blanc (34 per cent). Over the longer term, Riesling consumption has fallen and Chardonnay has been stable while consumption of Pinot Gris/Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc has been increasing.

Merlot is the number one red variety, according to Wine Intelligence, with 53 per cent of choice among regular wine drinkers in Germany indicating they drink it followed by Dornfelder2 (47 per cent), Cabernet Sauvignon (36 per cent), Pinot Noir (34 per cent) and Shiraz/Syrah (19 per cent).

Wine Intelligence research also shows there has been a significant increase in regular wine drinkers in Germany who regularly ‘enjoy trying new and different styles of wine’, particularly among younger consumers. Furthermore, a growing number of German consumers think that their choice of wine is an important decision, suggesting that they are becoming more involved with wine.

According to the Global Trade Atlas, in 2017–18, Italy was the biggest imported wine category by volume with a 35 per cent share, followed by Spain (26 per cent), France (15 per cent), South Africa (6 per cent) and Australia (3 per cent). Australia overtook Chile in 2017–18.

Australian wine exports to Germany have grown solidly from 37 million litres valued at A$49 million in 2016–17 to 40 million litres valued at A$59 million in 2017–18. Germany is Australia’s fifth largest export destination by volume and eighth by value. The lower value ranking is principally due to the way in which wine is shipped from Australia to Germany – 85 per cent is shipped in bulk containers to be packaged in-market.

There were 20 bulk wine exporters and 105 bottled wine exporters to Germany in 2017–18.

The growth in the last 12 months has come through increased bulk shipments, up 11 per cent to 34 million litres, while bottled exports declined by 9 per cent to 6 million litres. The average value of both increased. The bulk average value increased by 23 per cent to A$1.09 per litre and bottled exports value increased by 8 per cent to A$3.66 per litre. It was the first time since 2012–13 that the bulk average value to Germany had exceeded A$1 per litre.

For bottled exports, the decline was due to declines at below A$5 per litre, which more than offset growth in price points at A$5 per litre or more (see figure 4). Bottled exports below A$5 declined by 12 per cent to 5.2 million litres while exports at A$5 or more increased by 17 per cent to 900,000 litres.

Driving the growth in bottled exports at $5 or more was Riesling and Chardonnay, which more than offset declines in Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Figure 4: Australian bottled exports to Germany by price segment (million litres)

Source: Wine Australia

For more information on the German wine market, contact Wine Australia’s Europe team at

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.