Irish Wine Market Report 2020

August 13, 2021

An estimated 95% of wine sales were from off-trade sector in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdowns - new report

  • Wine is Ireland’s second favourite alcohol beverage with 32% market share
  • Popularity of rosé continues to grow, doubling its market share since 2016
  • Excise on wine remains the highest in the EU
  • Chilean wine is the nations’ top selling with 25% market share

It is estimated that one in four bottles of wine sold in Ireland is from Chile, according to the Drinks Ireland|Wine 2020 Market Report.  The report, released today, shows that wine comfortably remains the nation’s second favourite alcohol beverage after beer.  2020 saw a five-point increase in wine’s market share to 32.2%, mostly at the expense of beer’s market share which fell from 44.9% in 2019 to 38.9% in 2020.  

The Covid-19 pandemic saw changing purchasing trends and overall alcohol sales fall by 6.6% in 2020.  Beer and cider sales were significantly hit as those products are typically consumed in the hospitality sector.  However, generally about 80% of wine purchased in Ireland is in the retail sector. Due to the rolling lockdowns of the hospitality sector, however, an estimated 95% of wine sales were from the retail sector in 2020.

Overall, wine sales in 2020 rose by 12% to over 10 million cases.  According to industry estimates, the popularity of rosé continues to grow. It had an estimated 7% share of the wine market last year, which is double its share in 2016.  White wine is Ireland’s favourite, with a share of 48%, followed by red wine at 45%.  

While Chilean wine remains the nation’s favourite for the 7th year in a row, Spanish wine continues to grow in popularity with a 15.4% share of the total wine market in 2020, just ahead of Australia’s 13.8%.  French and Italian wines are the 4th and 5th most popular wines respectively.  

The excise rate on wine sold in Ireland remains the highest in Europe.  For wine, Irish consumers pay €3.19 per standard bottle at 13% ABV.  Of the 27 EU Member States, 15 do not charge on any duty on wine.  Furthermore, sparkling wine gets an additional excise hit totalling to €6.37 on a standard bottle. 

In 2020, the sector paid €425 million on excise to the exchequer, an increase of €47 million from the previous year.  Over the past decade wine generated over €3.4 billion to the exchequer in excise alone.

“2020 was an exceptional year for the Irish wine market, primarily due to the lockdowns that the retail sector has endured last year.  It is unlikely that the sales figures of 2020 would be replicated in a post Covid-19 world.

“As a result of Covid-19, which resulted in lockdowns and the closure of the hospitality sector, Irish consumer drinking habits changed for a period. As beer and cider are mostly consumed in the on-trade, sales fell across both categories while wine sales in the off-trade rose. Overall alcohol consumption declined. 

“Consumers in Ireland continue to pay punitive rates of excise on wine compared with other EU countries and Drinks Ireland|Wine is calling for the government to reduce the excise rate on wine in Budget 2022,” according to Jonathan McDade, Head of Wine at Drinks Ireland.