Market analysts ACNielsen has restated figures suggesting that UK wine sales had fallen in the last 12 months.

Figures published yesterday (25 May) had said that in the year and eight weeks to 22 April, wine sales fell 2%. White wine sales were said to have dipped 1%, although red wine sales were flat.

However, ACNielsen moved to clarify the figures today, insisting that total wine sales over the period had in fact risen by 3%, with white wine sales up 1%. Red wine sales were indeed static.

Nevertheless, over the last 8 weeks to 22 April, total wine sales did dip, by 2%. Red wine sales slid 2%, while sales of white wine slumped 5%. The fall was claimed to be the first time in over a decade that UK wine sales had fallen.

Steve Blunt, wine specialist at ACNielsen, blamed a host of economic factors for the decline in wine sales. He said: "Growing consumer debt and sharply rising utilities, council tax and petrol prices put pressure on households to curb their indulgences, and a growing awareness of healthy eating and drinking can also have an impact - wine is a likely casualty when economising."

However, Blunt pointed to a "real dynamism" in sales of rosé, which leapt 35% over the year to 22 April, leading to what Blunt called a "pink phenomena".

"It is driven by the US, and we've been introduced to sweeter, lighter, easy-drinking Zinfandel and Grenache as rosés from all countries have seen a strong uplift in sales.  Champagnes and sparkling wines have also seen strong uplift in pink - it seems the fashionable thing right now - it looks good in the glass, goes down easily and is refreshing."
Champagne sales rose 4%, according to ACNielsen, while sparkling wine sales rose 7%.

Blunt added: "Unless the market picks up, then wine could be set to have a tough year or two. A great summer, an England World Cup win and lower interest rates may all change this, of course. The good news is the consumer will continue to benefit on price, but the industry needs to ensure this is not at the cost of quality."