Sherry has become far "trendier" over the past year and must be given bigger shelf space this Christmas to boost sales according to leading brands Harveys and Croft Original.

Category sales of the traditional festive tipple slipped 2.6% to £35m last Christmas [Nielsen 12w/e 26 December 2009] as sherry was out-muscled in the drinks fixture by spirits and wine, said Melissa Draycott, sales director at Croft Original brand owner Gonzalez Byass.

However, over the past year increased marketing activity in the on-trade had boosted the appeal of sherry among younger drinkers, she claimed.

"Sherry is definitely getting a trendier image," said Draycott. "Last month, Time Out voted London sherry bar Bar Pepito as this year's best new bar and it is also benefiting from increased interest in tapas food."

Harveys owner Maxxium UK said it would recruit a younger audience to the sherry category by using marketing to remind consumers to drink sherry chilled. It said it would also create more cocktail recipes using the drink.