Fine wine surges ahead as top-end sales grow

Fine wine seems to be enjoying something of a surge in popularity in recent months, as official figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association show.

In the year ending April 2012, the off trade - wine shops that sell bottles to be drunk at home, rather than hotels or restaurants - saw bottles priced at £10 and above rise in popularity by 32%.

This is against a more modest price inflation of 6.5% for wines and spirits across the board.

While fine wine is gaining in popularity, however, champagne is finding other sparkling wines are stealing some of its market share.

In bars and restaurants - not including the off trade in wine shops - sparkling wine increased in popularity by 2% over the year, while champagne fell by 13%.

With inflation for the year measured at 3%, it could be that fewer people are prepared to pay the higher prices for champagne while out for a meal.

However, sparkling wine offers at your local merchant could be an ideal alternative, whether you choose champagne or one of its rivals from a neighbouring European country.

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