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December 2, 2015

Like most facets of life, the drinks industry is also subject to ever-changing trends. We take a look at the current and emerging habits of consumers.

The lone travellers among us are happy to be seen drinking rosé when the rest of their peers have moved onto sipping sauvignon blanc come summertime. Those determined to keep strictly on-trend would be reluctant to drink an IPA if the whole world is collectively popping the top off a crisp, clean pilsner. And heaven forbid you’re tucking into a London Gin when even your parents are ahead of the pack and are garnishing their fashionably local Victorian gin with a splash of tonic and a squeeze of lime! 

Even if you don’t run with the pack, it’s always fascinating to examine a few of the current trends that are shaping the drinks market today.

Place

Perhaps one of the most important trends to span the whole drinks industry today is provenance.

While many are happy enough to order any old gin and tonic to kick off the evening, connoisseurs of the classic G&T are more confidently ordering a specific small-batch gin from a specific place that they know reflects the flavour profile that they are looking for. Melbourne Gin Co. (distilled in the Yarra Valley) has a distinct citrus and exotic fruit profile and is perfect when mixed into a classic martini. West Winds Gin, hailing from Margaret River, produces two different styles of gin that each fall into a more savoury profile, yet are equally at home served long as they are when poured simply on the rocks with a twist.

On the wine front, people are trending away from the miscellaneous high-volume Australian chardonnay. The savvy wine drinker now not only wants to know the producer, but more often they want to know the region and even the particular vineyard that the fruit has come from. Wines like Giant Steps ‘Sexton’ Chardonnay are produced from a specific vineyard site in the Yarra Valley, and are made to reflect that particular patch of dirt rather than simply being a bottle of wine. Pikes Riesling, from the Clare Valley in South Australia, is a true Australian icon and a classic example of what Clare Valley Riesling should taste like. The crisp, steely, floral-infused style of Riesling is distinctive to the area and is as Australian as Vegemite.

And beer drinkers have now become as discerning as the wine-lovers when it comes to knowing what brew they are cleansing their palate with. Rather than simply looking for a ‘heavy’ or a ‘light’ beer, people are now more familiar with the different styles of beers on offer and are equally comfortable ordering an IPA as they are ordering their Kolsch. Beer drinkers are also keen to know which particular brewery their cleanser is coming from, and breweries like Beechworth’s Bridge Road and Manly’s 4 Pines have gone a long way to ensuring that the beer category is one of the most trend-driven and exciting drink sectors around.

Small Batch

A common theme running through all these particular wines, beers and spirits is that they are produced in small volumes. Rather than being readily available, they are often produced in limited batches and are naturally limited by the raw ingredients available to the producer. Their finite nature tends to mean that they will sell out well before the next batch of vintage is available, ensuring they build customer loyalty and create demand for the coveted goods.

Organics and Biodynamics

Organic produce has been a trending topic in food production and is now increasingly relevant to the drinks industry. Many customers want to know that the products they are drinking have been made in a particular manner, and organic certification is a growing consideration. Richmond brewery Mountain Goat has long been at the forefront of the craft beer market and their Steam Ale is not only deliciously crisp and fresh, but it is also certified organic and preservative-free.

In Western Australia, Vanya Cullen, proprietor of the iconic Cullen Wines, is one of the country’s most respected winegrowers. She crafts stunning wines from her vineyards in Margaret River. Vanya is also one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticultural practices (a set of spiritual practices originating from the turn of the last century) in Australia, and farms all of her vineyards under biodynamic principles. These are also the principles that Steve Lubiana follows to make his fascinating range of wines under the Stefano Lubiana label in Tasmania. Heading back over to WA, the team at vodka distillery Hippocampus produce their wonderful crystal clear pure vodka from biodynamically grown wheat.

With more and more producers implementing organic and biodynamic principles, this trend, along with provenance and small batch brewing and distilling will likely gather momentum as producers seek to make wines, spirits and beers that are not only sympathetic to the landscape, but that taste great too! Now pass me my small batch, single origin, biodynamic gin please…I’m thirsty.