(THE GUARDIAN) - Experts are warning of a national drought that could have a devastating impact upon the nation's barbecue plans.
The shortage, however, is of wine- not water. One of the UK's leading winesellers has said the country's supply of rosé - particularly from Provence - was under increasing pressure because of a dire French harvest in 2017 and British drinkers' desire to "drink pink" all year round.
"The threat to rosé supplies started in the winter of 2017-2018 with an unseasonal peak in out-of-season demand, even during the 'beast from the east'," said Charles Cutterdige, a wine buyer at Majestic.
The record-breaking temperatures over the early May bank holiday evidently exacerbated the looming shortage, with Majestic reporting a doubling in rosé sales at its 210 stores over the long weekend.
In recent years, rosé has won over younger wine drinkers, a trend documented in millions of social media posts celebrating nights out washed down with glasses of millennial pink .
Global wine production slumped to its lowest level in more than 50 years in 2017 after vines in the world's top three producers - France , Spain and Italy - were ravaged by both freakishly hot and cold weather.
Last month, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said global production in 2017 dropped 8.6 per cent to 250m hectolitres. A hectolitre is the equivalent to 133 standard wine bottles so the fall in output equates to about 3bn fewer bottles.
The breakdown of the global OIV figure showed that Spain was the most severely hit, with its output down by a fifth at 32.1m hectolitres. Francewas down 19 per cent to 36.7m hectolitres, while Italy, the world's largest wine producer, slumped 17 per cent to 42.5m hectolitres.
Last year the UK spent £780m (S$1.4 billion) on rosé, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, drinking more than 111 million bottles. But Majestic says drinkers will have to be more creative if they want to avoid paying higher prices for pink.
The devaluation of sterling after the Brexit vote has already pushed up the retail price of wine in the UK. The tight supply created by the harvest woes, has added further upwards pressure. the research firm Neilson has so far reported French wine prices up 5.5 per cent.
Cutterdige says fans of rosé from Provence should give Portuguese pale pinks a try, or venture further afield to New Zealand Or if things get really desperate Majestic says its OK to stick a bottle of the lighter reds in the fridge: "Chilled red wine can be just as fab on a hot sunny afternoon as any blush."
Upmarket wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd said its rosé stock levels were stable despite 2017's harvest problems. However, earlier this year it forecast the price of standard supermarket wines such as prosecco and pinot grigio could rise by up to 30 per cent in the coming months as the impact of last year's drought, frost and hailstorms is felt on the high street.
Fiona Hayes, one its wine buyers, said that while the bad weather had hit some producers she was confident "in the quantity and quality of wine" Berry Bros & Rudd would have available for its customers.