An alternative view of the United Kingdom’s wine market

Market bulletin | Issue 71

08 Aug 2017
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The United Kingdom (UK) remains the number one destination for Australian exports by volume. More Australian wine is shipped to the UK than to any other market and Australia is the leading wine producing nation in the market.

Overall, in 2016–17, the total value of Australian wine exports to the UK declined by 7 per cent to $341 million while volume also decreased by 10 per cent to 220 million litres. However, exports at high-end price points grew very strongly, but they were more than offset by a decline at the low-end.

Exports at $7.50–9.99 per litre increased by 19 per cent in value to $14 million and at $10 per litre or more by 13 per cent to $28 million.

At the other end of the price spectrum, exports below $2.50 per litre declined by 7 per cent to $183 million and at $2.50–4.99 per litre by 19 per cent to $89 million. The decline at the lower-end reflects the appreciation of the Australian dollar (AUD) against the pound sterling (GBP) since the Brexit announcement on 23 June 2016.

There was strong growth in exports of Australia’s three biggest varieties. Shiraz exports increased by 11 per cent to $42 million, Chardonnay by 14 per cent to $32 million and Cabernet Sauvignon by 21 per cent to $22 million.

Australian alternative varieties and blends exports on the rise

There is also growth in a range of more alternative varieties and blends, highlighting the richness and diversity of Australian wine. While they are relatively small categories, they are big on unique expression, innovation and consumer appeal.

The table below highlights a selection of the alternative varieties and blends that recorded very strong growth rates in Australian exports to the UK in 2016–17.


Value ($FOB)






































UK wine consumers have diverse wine purchases

The growth in these varieties reinforces the UK market as a leader in innovation and very open to new products.

This is supported by recent research published on the UK market by Wine Intelligence[1]. They reported that while traditional varieties are still the top sellers, other varieties are growing. For example, for whites, the proportion of consumers saying they had drunk Viognier in the last 6 months increased from 9 per cent in 2013 to 11 per cent in 2016.

The big mover for reds was Malbec, with 16 per cent indicating they had drunk the variety in 2013 compared with 24 per cent in 2016. Australian exports of both varieties increased in 2016–17 – Malbec by 43 per cent and Viognier/Chardonnay blends by 377 per cent.

Australia’s alternative varieties on show in London

To explore these trends, Wine Australia recently held the Alternative Varieties Tasting in London. The event was focused entirely on alternative grape varieties. The tasting featured more than 120 wines from 50 producers. All styles of Australian wine were on show and prices (£RRP) ranged from £5.99 up to £50 a bottle.

Guests explored Mediterranean varieties such as Arneis, Friulano, Dolcetto and Tempranillo as well as more unusual varieties like Assyrtiko, Sagrantino, Taminga and Teroldego.

More than 120 visitors from across the UK attended the tasting, including buyers, sommeliers, importers, media and educators. Peter Richards, BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, summed up the event ‘a fascinating tasting and it really demonstrated what an exciting time it is for Australian wine’. Ruth Yates, owner of Corks Out, commented ‘I’m loving how diverse Australia has become, so many changes and lots to explore’.

At the tasting, Wine Australia ran a vote, encouraging guests to nominate the alternative grape variety that most impressed them. Three varieties shared the top spot – Assyrtiko, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo.

For more information on the UK market contact Wine Australia’s UK team at


[1] The UK Wine Market Landscape Report 2016, October 2016