But the space given to wine is not necessarily falling, as key lines are being given a greater presence.
"You've got a consumer revolution going on," said Steve Barton, director of First Cape supplier Brand Phoenix. "People don't shop big ranges in grocery supermarkets they may in Majestic but in grocers you haven't got time and the environment isn't right. The ranges are getting smaller, but the space that key lines are getting has increased. So there is less range but much more concentration on price and availability."
The UK's bestselling Spanish wine brand, Campo Viejo, said Sainsbury's used to be its biggest customer and stocked seven of its wines, but that fell to four last year.
"Some retailers have been cleaning up their portfolios and de-stocking," said Campo Viejo brand manager Karine Euvrard.
Grocers were looking to increase profitability, with fewer SKUs and less stock, she added.
A wine buyer for a national retailer confirmed the multiples were cutting their ranges: "Wine ranges will be smaller in 2010 than in 2009," he said. "You'll see a cull in temporary lines and bigger focus on core ranging in the major multiples."
He claimed Tesco had added 350 new wines to its shelves over the past 18 months with a drive into premium and fine wine offerings.
"Now we're seeing a reduction in that process, driven by the recession," he said. "What's on the shelf must justify itself."
Sales of Campo Viejo had been affected by the recession and Sainsbury's range reduction, said Euvrard, but she added that strong sales of the Crianza and Reserva had increased the overall sales value of the brand.
Latest off-trade figures for the brand show flat volume sales but value up 5.8% [Nielsen 52w/e 26 December 2009].
The brand will launch its latest offering, a premium-positioned Tempranillo, at this year's London Wine Fair in May.