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Sales of sherry in the UK have soared during lockdown and could smash all records over Christmas, thanks to its appeal to a new generation for its versatility – as an early evening “snifter” or a base for homemade cocktails.
Retailers are predicting “the biggest year ever” for sherry this festive season, after a long-term decline in sales was reversed as a result of families trying out different drinks while unable to visit pubs, bars and restaurants.
The market research company Nielsen said sales of sherry leaped by more than 20% in March – when hospitality venues were first forced to close – with sustained growth propelling the UK to become the biggest world market and overtaking Spain, the traditional home of the fortified wine.
Traditional sweet cream sherries remain popular, but dry styles are in vogue as a base for cocktails, from new-style martinis with a “sherry rinse” to exotic modern confections such as spritzers made with elderflower water.
The comeback of the fortified wine – a comforting if staid favourite in British drinks cabinets – was singled out as one of the most striking drinks trends of 2020 in Waitrose’s recent food and drink report.
The trend is further reflected in online searches on Waitrose.com, with searches for cream sherry having soared by a staggering 850% while amontillado sherry searches are up 512%.
Jamie Matthewson, the retailer’s wine-buying manager, said: “We are expecting this will be our biggest year ever for sherry at Christmas. Sherry has seen phenomenal growth this year and it’s great that more shoppers are experimenting and exploring with the variety of styles.
“Not only does it bring a sense of nostalgia to Christmas, it’s also the perfect pairing to a variety of dishes – from salty cured meats to rich, indulgent desserts.”
Britons are also buying sherry to rustle up Instagram-worthy trifles, although Waitrose’s Queen of Trifles – with a sherry-infused sponge base – has already sold out online.
Martin Skelton, the managing director of the Spanish wine specialist González Byass UK, – whose brands include Tio Pepe, Croft Original, González Byass (house), and the 30-year old Matusalem– said sherry had been “misunderstood for so long in the UK, but is now, deservedly, having its moment, and is amazing value for money.”
The Co-op convenience chain has sold an extra 44,000 litres of sherry this year, with sales of its own-brand Irresistible Sherry up 70% on the same time last year.
“Consumers are experimenting with their drinks which means sherry has made a comeback” said Simon Cairns, the head of drinks at the Co-op. “The introduction of more stylish varieties, such as the luxurious Pedro Ximénez, has caught the eye of the younger generation who are turning to this as they experiment more at home to recreate their favourite drinks.”
A spokesman for Majestic Wine added: “Historically Father Christmas and Grandma’s festive favourite, 2020 has seen a marked shift in sales across the rest of the year, with summer sales up over 75%.
“[Sherry] is the ideal lockdown drink, with a bottle in the fridge door making a long-lasting 6pm snifter. Christmas could break all modern records for the sales with aged styles and even cream sherry back in vogue.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Sherry sellers toast surge in UK sales during lockdown | Business