It may still feel like summer, but with Labor Day weekend in the rearview mirror, autumn is top of mind. And it’s not just the leaves changing this fall: Early data from across the Drizly universe suggests consumers will switch up their beverage preferences, with lagers, Italian red wines, and reposado tequilas poised to see upticks in popularity as hard seltzers, rosé, and IPAs begin to fade.

Read on to uncork BevAlc Insights’ forecasts into the trends set to drive consumer palates and reshape market dynamics this season.

Italian Reds Wines Will Move to Center Stage

While red wine traditionally sees share gains during the fall and winter months, this year’s seasonal shift is putting a new category in the spotlight: Italian wines. In 2023 to date, Italian wine accounts for 7.4 percent share of the red wine category compared to 6.7 percent share during the same time period in 2022. Similarly, Italian grape varieties including Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are among the fastest-growing red wine varieties on the platform this year. 

“It appears that consumers are beginning to see red wine as a more versatile, year-round drink rather than as a seasonal beverage, with increasing plans to drink it during the summer months – and that’s spilling over into the fall season as well,” says Paquette, noting 31 percent of respondents in Drizly’s annual consumer survey reported red wine as their go-to summer beverage. “We think this trend could be related to the media and social media focus on Europe, especially Italian summer, driving sales for drinks like the Aperol spritz.”

The surge in consumer demand for Italian wines is also expanding in the on-premise market, according to data from NielsenIQ, suggesting that this spike in popularity will keep growing in off-premise channels as well. “The consumer preference for Italian red wine is up six percent compared with last year, the highest growth of any country of origin,” says Ben Tilton, the associate client solutions manager for NielsenIQ. “That’s second only to domestic reds in terms of preference.”

Consumers’ reach toward Italian varieties could represent a significant boost to the bottom line for well-stocked retailers, since these imported wines carry higher average unit prices in 2023, with Italian reds averaging $22.94 per bottle compared to $20.62 for red wines in general. Retailers should consider stocking Italian reds in the $10 to $20 and $20 to $30 range, which account for 65 percent of Italian wine category share. 

Lagers Will Continue Their Category Dominance

Classic lagers are likely to see a boost this season as sporting events and seasonal brews put beer center stage. 

Lager is already trending in 2023, making up 42 percent of beer share overall compared to the same period in 2022. Lager subcategories – including light lagers, American-style lagers, pilsners, and pale lagers – have all seen significant growth over the same period, indicating consumers are returning to classic drinks at the expense of the subcategories that have garnered much attention in recent years, such as hard seltzers and IPAs. 

“The declining share of hard seltzer in the beer category is certainly playing a role in the share gains for lager, particularly light lager, which has regained its position this year as the top-selling beer subcategory on Drizly.” adds Paquette, noting hard seltzer share has declined to 17.5 percent of beer share in 2023 to date, down from 19.8 percent in 2022. 

Among the seasonal beers that often drive sales during autumn months, BevAlc Insights predicts that pumpkin-flavored brews will remain popular. The top-selling pumpkin-flavored beers on Drizly over the past year are Montauk Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, Elysian Brewing Pumpkin Pack, Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale, and Downeast Pumpkin Cider.

Reposado Will Continue its Tequila Rise

Tequila has been a red-hot category on Drizly for several years, and Halloween has proven to be a popular tequila-drinking occasion. Therefore, expect to see a spike for this spirit – particularly reposado SKUs. Consumers are expanding their tequila drinking beyond popular cocktails like margaritas, seeing the spirit as a premium beverage for sipping, competing more closely with whiskey and other high-end spirits. 

In 2023 to date, reposado tequila makes up 30 percent share of the tequila category compared to 28 percent in the same time period in 2022. While silver and blanco SKUs still outnumber reposados, this category is now the second-most available style of tequila on the platform.  

“In terms of subcategories within tequila, reposado [is a standout] from a growth perspective, with volume gains of 11.5 percent,” explains Tilton. “Reposado now represents 16.2 percent of the total tequila category in terms of dollar share.”

In 2023 to date, the most popular reposado offerings on Drizly come from well-established brands with strong distribution, including Clase Azul Reposado Tequila, Casamigos Reposado, Don Julio Reposado, Espolòn Tequila Reposado, Teremana Tequila Reposado, and Don Julio Rosado Tequila Reposado. 

Stocking Up for At-Home Gatherings

While summer is marked by travel, fall brings a return to at-home hosting with occasions like football season, Halloween, Friendsgiving, and Thanksgiving offering retailers the chance to capitalize on large orders designed to satisfy a crowd. 

Data from Drizly’s annual consumer report suggests consumers are going to be hosting as much or more than usual this year: A full 47 percent of survey respondents cited they’re planning to host as often as they did in 2022, while an additional 22 percent plan to host friends and family more often this year.

In addition to stocking up on popular categories like lagers, tequila, and red wines, retailers can benefit from offering in-demand products to these groups. “Hosting typically comes with the largest basket sizes since hosts are buying for larger groups, therefore more price conscious” says Paquette. “Retailers can capitalize on this by highlighting deals on products online as well as in store.”