Overall wine sales are falling but Irish drinkers are becoming increasingly likely to pop a celebratory bottle of a sparkling variety such as Champagne or Prosecco, according to to the latest industry research.
The Irish Wine Market report, released on Tuesday by the Drinks Ireland division of Ibec, shows the consumption of wine per capita across the State fell 3.6 per cent last year. The report also says overall wine consumption fell 2 per cent.
The share of overall wine sales accounted for by sparkling varieties, however, rose by three-quarters. Wine had a 27 per cent share of the overall alcoholic drinks market, second only to beer, and generated €376 million in taxes.
The report shows that Chilean wines remain, by far, the most popular in the Irish market, accounting for more than a quarter of all wine sales. Drinkers here quaffed about 29 million bottles of Chilean wine last year, or about six bottles for each man, woman and child in the State.
Australian wine is second for Irish drinkers with about 15.6 per cent of the market, with Spanish wines third on 13 per cent, French on 11.9 per cent and Italian on 9.4 per cent.
More than four in every five bottles of wine are sold in the off-trade, confirming the drink’s propensity as a favourite of home drinkers.
Marginally more white wine than red is consumed in Ireland, a reversal of the trend from a decade ago when red was more popular during the financial crash. Less than one in 20 bottles sold is a rosé.
The various drinks industry groups under the Ibec umbrella have lobbied the Government for several years for a cut in alcohol taxes, to no avail. The wine sector is calling for a cut in excise, with Irish taxes on a bottle of wine the highest in Europe.
"For wine, Irish consumers pay €3.19 [in taxes] per standard bottle," said Jim Bradley, the chairman of wine distributor Febvre and the chairman of Ibec unit, Drinks Ireland-Wine.
“Looking at a €9 bottle of wine – 54 per cent is tax. Furthermore, sparkling wine get an additional excise hit totalling to €6.37 on a standard bottle. Effectively this is a tax on celebrations,” he said.