Each year with just about everything and anything, there are new trends and expectations to be set. What will be in style this year? What's the season’s new "it" color? For restaurants, what will be this year’s hottest ingredient? The list goes on and on. Likewise, for all of these industries, the wine industry equally has to create interest for the latest and greatest wines, or even wines which have been overlooked over the years. So what are the predicted wine trends?
Before I get into what the critics, even self-proclaimed critics and wine magazines have to say, here’s what I’d like to see take on a trend, whether it's this year or in the very near future…
As a professional sommelier who’s been in the industry for over ten years, I have had the opportunity to work closely with small producers. My travel has also put me in touch with those who are moving and shaking in the industry, those who want to keep the passion alive, live locally, produce and buy great fruit for great wines. I admire those in the industry who like to step outside tradition while still respecting it. These are the people who are the beating heart of the industry. I love to learn about their stories, how they’re stepping out into new territories and in unclaimed climates to adapt to the market as much as climate change. It is my hope this year, that fellow wine-professionals will also give attention to these home-grown small producers with a lot of potential.
So what is the general consensus of the predicted wine trends for this year?
I did a little online research, and according to these blogs, magazines and such, they all seem to be in agreement. Here’s the low-down according to; coravin.com, winedom.com, entrepreneur.com, winemag.com, foodandwine.com and australia.com.
The Story of a Wine
I must start with Coravin’s site. They seem to share my perception on the importance of a wine’s story. According to Coravin, they believe people will be more interested in the background and story of the wine they drink, who made it and what their story is - is the wine organic, biodynamic, etc. The concept of a backstory bleeds into many industries, setting a trend in markets for small, family-owned producers with a unique story.
The farm-to-table trend in restaurants has been big for a few years now, and with people still watching their wallets and therefore, being able to find value in locally grown wines, leading the grape-to-glass trend. These wines seem to be the next logical step in what wine consumers want.
In conjunction with what Coravin predicts, winemag.com is predicting an increase in sales for natural wines. The overall population, foodies, those who are health conscious and many others want to know what they are putting in their bodies. If it can be avoided, people no longer want pesticide-laden foods or drinks and that ethic has carried over into the wine industry. Populations across the world are looking for more natural wines, organic and biodynamic wines.
The Return of Riesling and Sweet Wines
Rieslings were a predicted trend of 2015, as a favorite for those who like their terroir-driven wines, however, the trend didn’t pick up steam until the end of the year. According to The Huffington Post in their recent article, Trending: "Food Heroes" in 2016, pickling many food items will be hot on the menu this year. This can range between vegetables to fruits and even proteins. This food trend has also been mentioned in on a few other sites as well, including fermented foods. This is a great time for pairing Rieslings and other sweet wines with such foods. Be sure to keep an eye out for Australian Semillon according to australia.com. Whites from Portugal will also see some attention with their unique grapes, freshness and affordable prices.
As the millennial generation are coming of drinking age, who will also be an important marketing group according to Entrepreneur, these whites are the perfect wines to introduce to those not familiar with wine. I like to think of sweeter white wines, which are unique and even terroir-driven gateway wines to get people on the proverbial "wagon" to ask questions and try others as their palates mature.
Revisiting Classical Regions and Antiquity
Long-standing wine lovers and collectors will be stepping away from Napa Valley and Bordeaux. They want to perhaps find more affordable bottles like those of the Brunellos, Barolos and Super Tuscans, says Entrepreneur. Such wines fill the want of big red wines and something off-the-beaten path as will newly-focused regions of Eastern Europe.
The wine making regions of Eastern Europe go back as far as 6000 BC in Georgia to 4500 BC in Armenia. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have made wine since before medieval times. For many generations, their wines have gone unnoticed beyond their borders, but in this year, it is predicted that many wine enthusiasts and those getting interested in wine will be looking out for the traditional wines of antiquity. Not in the way of aged wines of antiquity, but people will want to visit via their glass the orange wines of Georgia, the crisp and beautifully floral and aromatic whites of Czech and the “Croatian Coastal whites” according to Coravin.
Domestic Sparkling Wines
The general prediction across many media platforms of the wine and gastronomy industry is saying that in general, sparkling wines of the United States will perform well this year. However, the trend covers other parts of the world for those wishing to shop locally for sparkling wines in the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Champagne will always be a classic, but people are realizing you do not need to spend a fair amount of moolah for a great bubbly and a lot can be found right in their backyard. The trends of bubbly-style wine does not stop with sparkling and those made traditionally in the bottle or the less-expensive tank (Charmat method). People are on the lookout for naturally sparkling wines as well, even those these bubbles sort of just fade away. These are those of some traditional German Rieslings (already on the list) and other German varietals, Austrian wines and Italian whites.So there are your wine trends for this year. What will you be drinking?