Wineries are tipping moscato as a variety to watch as Brits develop a taste for sweeter, fruity wines.

Million of shoppers were not satisfied with the white wine offered by UK retailers, claimed E&J Gallo, which is turning to moscato following a decline in off-trade sales.

The winery is launching two varieties next month, a sweet 8.5% abv Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato (rsp: £6.79), which will be backed by Gallo’s biggest-ever UK spend on a single launch - and a Barefoot Moscato that will be sweeter with a similar abv.

“Our research shows there could be as many as three million consumers not satisfied with the white wine on retailers’ shelves,” said Bill Roberts, Gallo vice president and general manager for EMEA.

Off-trade sales of Gallo Family Vineyards wine fell 10% to £133m last year [Nielsen 52 w/e 1 October 2011], while latest figures for the overall off-trade market show a 2% drop in white wine volume sales [Nielsen 52 w/e 4 February].

Gallo pointed to the success of moscato in the US last year, where it rose 73% to $180.9m (£115m) [Symphony IRI 52 w/e 8 January 2012], making it the third-largest selling white grape there. “I would be surprised if it got to that level here but I think it can be a viable wine style for the UK consumer,” said Roberts.

British wine drinkers were favouring fruity, sweet flavours, said Paul Shelton, category insights manager for importer PLB. “Moscato could offer an alternative to white zinfandel, which is getting increasingly expensive,” he added.

Thierry’s - which is adding a moscato to its El Prado Spanish range - tipped 5.5% abv semi-sparkling and 7.5% sparkling styles as strong performers. Nielsen analyst Stewart Blunt agreed sparkling would be “lively” but said still moscato was a greater opportunity longer-term.