Sales of dry sherries have soared by a quarter, popularised by the growing number of tapas restaurants and sherry bars, according to Majestic Wine.
The revival in demand for drier, premium varieties such as fino and manzanilla this year is thought to have arrested a long-term decline in sales of the fortified wine, which had been caused by the dwindling popularity of cream and sweet sherries such as Harveys Bristol Cream or Croft Original.
“It’s the dry, more elegant styles that are doing well,” said Rowan Gormley, the chief executive of Majestic Wine. “It’s driven by the hipster generation.”
Dry sherries are also being used as a base for cocktails, from the classic Rebujito to modern inventions involving padrón peppers or tonic water.
Overall sales of sherry fell to 10m bottles in the UK in 2015, less than half the 22m sold in 2005, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). That was driven by the ebbing popularity of cream and sweet sherries as generations used to supping a glass or two before dinner pass away.
The trend comes as Brits are buying less wine, with the falling value of the pound driving up prices by an average 6%.
Gormley said he believed about 4% fewer bottles of wine were bought in the UK this year, but said shoppers were seeking out more interesting tipples that offered better value for money.
He said sales of wines from small-scale producers were growing in popularity amid the interest in artisan producers which has already gripped the beer and spirits markets.
“In a market where many of our competitors have gone bust, there’s a choice to pick up a bottle of wine off the shelf in a supermarket and take pot luck with a pretty label or a discount or to go into Majestic and get some advice.”
Sales rose 8.9% at the group’s fine wine specialist Lay & Wheeler. Separately, the Majestic Wine chain increased sales by 2.3% in the six months to 2 October, which Gormley said was ahead of the wider market.
Total group sales rose 4.2% and the company bounced back from a loss of £4.4m to a profit of £3.1m as it cut marketing costs for its Naked Wines online division, which achieved strong growth in the US.