Beer, Wine and Spirits Microtrends No. 7 (7/15-8/15): The Returns

This month is all about “The Return of…” just about everything — European wines, happy hour, experiential drinking. We’re diving into the centering experiences that will define drinking.

We assemble these mid-month reports to capture the buzziest industry happenings and process them into specific, product-focused trends. (Read earlier editions here.)

To the returns:

Trend 1: The Return of European Wines

The tariffs aimed at a majority of wines (and other goods) from France, Germany, Spain and the U.K. are officially off.

Notable summer varietals now free of excess tariffs? French Rosé, crisp Riesling and bubbly Cava. Build promotions around this news to regain margins lost to the hefty tariffs before.

Trend 2: The Return of Happy Hour

Many places in the U.S. are reopening after 15+ months of lockdown. People are getting vaccinated and heading back to happy hour.

But they’re not only going to the bar. Many are keeping gatherings small and personal, in parks or homes. For those, they’re turning to easily sharable, convenient, portable items.

That means that, yes, canned cocktails (or otherwise premixed drinks) are staying strong. We’d also pull in celebratory items (Champagne), twist-off or canned wines and easy cocktails (think Aperol Spritz).

Trend 3: The Return of Experiential Drinking

Winery visits. Whiskey trails. Distillery and brewery tours. Booze tourism is soaring back after a year in lockdown. The Drinks Business reports “off-the-charts demand” for luxury wine tastings in Napa, and distillers who had to pivot hard after closing tasting rooms are embracing long-missed tourism.

We’ve long known that younger consumers are partial to buying experiences over products. This takes that to a knew, pent-up level.

Brands and retailers should start marketing tourism-friendly programs to attract vacationers (and staycationers). Think storytelling through tastings to welcome first-timers to your brand; joining a wine or whiskey trail experience; building perfect-for-summer tastings or product bundles; offering tastings of wines from around the world as a virtual travel experience.


At this point in the year, our predictions start carrying weight for OND. We’re confident that these “returns” won’t disappear any time soon. Thought given to them now may pay off in Q4.

Innovate and drive creative, thoughtful, effective marketing through the independent channel. Track trends with our latest report on the independent channel, subscribe to Retail Untapped for a weekly pulse on the trends, or reach out to brainstorm your next moves together.

See you back here in four weeks.