The new year has us looking for possible wine trends and new directions.
It is safe to say the drink of moderation is under attack. Indeed it is being hammered on all sides by refreshment cocktails, beer and liquor, all of which have smartly transformed themselves over the last decade attracting new customers seemingly with ease.
While the outlook for true sustainability in wine production is encouraging, wine remains figuratively and literally bottled up in the same package, essentially unchanged for centuries. Unfortunately, the industry's reluctance to change touting tradition and history appears to fall on deaf ears among young consumers.
While some are lamenting falling wine sales, I'm not as bothered. There is far too much junk wine in the marketplace and way too much overpriced price wine in the system, so any decline in sales may be just what is required to correct the category. Furthermore, wine does not need to be for everybody and hence doesn't have to be watered down in flavour or discussion to widen its audience.
The obsession with growth lies mainly with commercial producers. Still, the endless expansion of brands and labels has permanently altered the broad wine market, making it little more than an extension of the refreshment arena. If there is any good news, it might be easier to find bottles of wine that speak to time, people and place, and they may end up being cheaper due to less demand.
Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, you will see more and more changes to packaging as everyone seeks to reduce the cost of producing and shipping wine worldwide. Expect wine in cans to become more of a thing, especially rosé and white wines, while bag-in-the-box will also gain ground, given its ability to be easily stored, shipped and recycled and perhaps best of all, the wine will last longer once it is opened. As the Borg would say, resistance is futile. If you need further explanation, think about all the wine producers who said they would never use a screwcap.
Non-alcoholic wine sales, while not enormous by any stretch, are growing and will only become a more significant part of the market in the future. The so-called NOLO (no alcohol, low alcohol) market is inching its way to a retail store near you with health and wellness concerns leading consumers to become more health-conscious, cutting calories, reducing their sugar intake and overall consumption of alcohol. Remember those high prices we mentioned; affordability is yet another factor where consumers are stating saving money as a reason for reducing their alcohol consumption.
Not surprisingly, there appears to be no shortage of suddenly health-conscious beverage producers looking to capitalize on consumers' urge to live healthier by reducing alcohol consumption. It is expected that the next phase of the NOLO market will be dominated by the development of savoury flavours completing a shift away from sweetness. We already see some impressive examples of dry, non-alcoholic wines such as Leitz — Eins Zwei Zero still and sparkling wines. Experts say producers of non-alcoholic wine will emphasize savoury, sour, and bitter options as they pursue the market.
In B.C., the most extensive selection of NOLO wines is in the private sector, so if you are interested in trying them, you best check with your local private wine retailer.
This will be another year of refinement across B.C. vineyards. However, unseasonable cold weather in December will have left a mark on some vineyards causing possible reduced production due to vine damage. Nevertheless, the sustainability train is in full motion, with producers and consumers buying into the notion that it's imperative that we leave the land better than we found it.
One thing is for sure; it won't be dull.
Here are some of the new formats we've reviewed. Of course, you may want to seek out some on your own, so tell us what you think is good.