AUSTIN, Texas (March 7, 2018) – Whole Foods Market’s team of beer, wine, and spirits experts just released their forecast for 2018’s front running beverage trends. The list is highlighted by a renewed interest in lighter-bodied beers, along with an emergence of hard seltzers and packaged wine spritzers. The global beverage team led by Master Sommelier Devon Broglie and Doug Bell, a seasoned veteran in the industry with more than 30 years of experience, compiled this list based on years of experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences.

Mexican imports & lighter-bodied brews

Beer lovers are putting down the hoppy IPAs and taking their palates on a vacation! It’s no secret that refreshing Mexican imports like Tecate and Modelo are part of a fast-growing beer segment (maybe because they pair so well with the ever-evolving and always popular taco.) Sessionable brews that are lower in alcohol, and for the most part lower in price than their heavier craft counterparts, are also rising to the top as consumers move towards simple and delightful lighter-bodied beers.

Bourbon barrel-aged wines

The bourbon barrel-aged trend is showing up in restaurants, specialty foods and snacks, but it’s not entirely new to the wine scene. This year, we’re excited to see bourbon barrel-aged wines come into their own, and consumers are already embracing the trend with palate-pleasing wines like Cooper & Thief and the Federalist. Fun fact: bourbon distilleries are required to use each barrel only once, so these wineries are repurposing barrels and reaping the benefits of bold, rich flavors left behind!

Hard seltzers are the new boozy bubbly

Sparkling water is having a moment. In 2018, the spotlight will shine on its bubbly cousin – hard seltzer. Calorie-counters rejoice as the variety of lighter drinking options expands! Hard seltzers allow consumers to toast their daily accomplishments and big wins with natural, refreshing drinks. The combination of fewer calories and alluring bubbles will make hard seltzers like White Claw a winning beverage choice for the new year.

Spritzers beyond sangria

Pre-packaged cocktails and wine spritzers will steal the show at your friends and family get togethers in 2018. Beyond staples like sangria and margaritas, new options designed to mimic classic cocktails. Try out Ramona, a Sicilian ruby grapefruit wine spritzer, or Hoxie Spritzer, a refreshingly different wine spritzer from Southern California – both are easy packing for picnics or tailgate parties.   

Alternative packaging is on the rise

Canned wine had its coming out party in 2017, highlighting a trend around alternative packaging designed for convenience and value that’s not slowing down. Expect price-conscious shoppers looking towards alternative packaging when making purchases in the wine & spirits category. Larger 1.5L magnum wine bottles can offer a better value, without sacrificing quality, and are more functional for larger dinner parties. The growing selection of cans makes it easy to bring your favorite wine to the next tailgate. Traditional glass bottles can be heavy and easily broken if you aren’t careful, but the emergence of plastic wine bottles allows active wine drinkers to pack a nice merlot while adventuring outside.

“Beyond these trends, we predict our shoppers will continue to look for a mix of high quality and great value as they stock up on their favorite beers and wines. Look for more boxed wine options and an emergence of 15-pack canned beers,” said Devon Broglie, MS and global beverage buyer for Whole Foods Market. “We expect 2018 to be a really great year for wine and beer connoisseurs and are excited to offer a one-stop-shop for all beverages with our robust selection and team of experts equipped to help shoppers make the perfect selection for any occasion.”

This year’s predictions came from Whole Foods Market’s global beverage experts who source items and spot beer, wine & spirits trends for the retailer’s more than 470 stores. Shoppers can shop the trends at their local Whole Foods Market stores