Old faves stock bar fridges at Christmas

IT IS Christmas time and everyone is buying booze.

But based on what those Christmas shoppers are buying, online and in stores, urged on by plentiful liquor store advertising in recent weeks, it is not craft beers and ciders that festive drinkers are likely to be swilling this year, but traditional sparkling wines and beers.

The most popular beers in NSW this year were Tooheys New, Victoria Bitter and XXXX Gold, Nielsen data shows. But there is a shift to premium and international brands. The alcohol industry calls this ''premiumisation''.

This year, Mexican beer Corona was ranked as the eighth most popular beer nationally, according to the Nielsen data. It showed premium international beer had experienced a 8.4 per cent increase, while craft beer had experienced a 42.4 per cent rise. Both though were coming from low bases. Surprisingly, it was beer brands Carlton Dry, XXXX Gold and James Squire Pale Ale that have had the highest volume growth.

Nick Yates from the Railway Hotel in Beaudesert, Queensland, said white wine was the most popular drink for Christmas on his online alcohol store, Jigsaw Liquor, which sells all over Australia. But XXXX Gold and Crown Lager remained the site's most popular beers.

Most cases of the more popular beers, such as Toohey's New and Victoria Bitter, are selling online for about $40, while the international favourite Corona has cases closer to $50.

Angus Hugson, marketing manager of online wine sales at crackawines.com.au, which is a transactional partner for Fairfax Media's goodfood.com.au, said bubbly sparkling wines were still popular this year, but there was a shift towards the ''more restrained'' and premium wines.

Pinot noir was growing in its popularity thanks to its ''lighter body'', he said.

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