Wine Trends: 2016 Predictions Come True, But What Is Really Happening?
The cool kids never watch trends, they set them. Not because they know what is coming, but because they have an inherent sense of confidence and assuredness that allows them to express themselves. The rest follow, and followers report. Sometimes they even predict, claiming a divine knowledge that they see what others do not. In reality, predicting trends is meaningless exercise that really shines light on movements that have already taken shape.
We looked back to some of the predictions people were making for the wine industry in 2016 and try and looked at what is happening, how it is shaping the wine business, and what it means for YOU!
1) Millennials matter - Because we fucking love wine!
Duh. The youngest millennials are now 21, so technically speaking they are just starting drink alcoholic beverages (we all know it starts in college) and they are trending towards wine. Millennials now make up half the wine consumption in the United States. That is massive! A huge problem is the wine industries inability to really hook them, despite their love of wine. The failure to understand how to capture millennials, and saying success is based in large parts due to stories and cool labels. Bullshit. Millennials may be young and relatively inexperienced drinkers, but they want to have fun, they enjoy life, are a generation of shakers, and learn faster than any other generation. If they don't like something they break it (Hi!) and as they grow thirstier for knowledge, and for wine, they will reward those who took the time to offer them something of worth, and punish those who did not.
2) The diminishing influence of the Sommelier, and how to save them
Sommeliers are losing influence in the wine industry. Younger drinkers do not trust the fine dining steward of good wine. The sentiment changed from that of service to one of sales, and people hate being sold to. Sommeliers are also being burned out, working long hours for little pay because of their love of wine. Not to mention a slew of apps that have taken their immediate place in the decision making point. Young sommeliers, however, are showing a knack to change and challenge the way we think about wine. If we can automate so much of what they do, we can focus their talents, attention to detail, and knowledge on helping consumers grow their knowledge for wine. Somms are becoming the cool kid in class who knows all the cool shit, music, fashion, etc. who encourages you to find your own way and less like the gatekeeper to a world you could never fully comprehend. More fun, less bullshit.
3) Cabernet Franc is so hot right now. Or was it Syrah? Or Rose? Gamay anyone?
Cabernet Franc is awesome, Syrah can be magical, and Rose is having a real moment right now. In fact Rose has been sexy for a couple of years as the perfect summer wine. The moment any wine shows something resembling a trend, wine experts the world over declare it the "in" thing. 2016 has been different, and could set a trend that lasts for decades in a sense that there is no real trend. Yes, people will try things that they consider fashionable, but thanks to the spread of information and access to such a massive world of wine, the real trend is consumers' willingness to experiment more. There is a massive world of wine out there, and limiting yourself to Napa Cabernets is boring and safe. Would a Texas Tannat (totally made that up, but would not doubt its existence) not be really fucking cool to at least try? This is going to make for a really exciting tie in wine where anything can happen.
As with any industry it is hard to distinguish a genuine and lasting trend from a fad. Remember POP Champagne in those little bottles anybody? Remember when musicians could not shut up about Cristal? Of course the greatest trend in wine is the trend you make for yourself, the journey that you undertake whether you start with a classic or indulge in something way off the beaten path. You can stay ahead of the trend by making your own way through the world, and be sure that you have the resources you need to make that trek a fruitful, lasting one. Above all you should go ahead and drink more wine, because it is so in right now and this trend is never going away.