Wine trends that will shape how we drink in 2019
2018 was a great year for wine. We got to see a lot of really cool things happen, meet some incredible people, and work with some awesome winemakers on telling their story. As we listen to what our winemaking friends are telling us and the people who buy and drink wine are talking about, we put our heads together, looked into the crystal ball, spun the amulet and looked into the infinite outcomes of the year and have determined that these are the wine trends that will shape how we drink in 2019. At least we think so, nobody is perfect.
Natural wines graduate from “just a fad”
There seems to be a raging debate in the wine world between “natty or die” natural wine fanatics and California oak heads who see modern wine as being whatever the hell you want it to be so you can get a RP90 something score. Their new claim is that “natural wine is just a fad” to which we say…bullshit! Much in the same vain as “rosé is just a fad” was a calling card of snobby winos ten years ago, there seems to be another disconnect between the desires of wine elitists and the sentiments of the general public. What makes natural wine so popular is not some hipster calling card that made its way into the masses like that one MGMT album, but rather its inherent nature is striking a chord with the mindset of wine drinkers today. Consumers are environmentally conscious and more in tune with production methods that are sustainable and have little environmental impact if any. Natural wine will continue to grow in 2019 as it becomes further accepted by the mainstream. With that mainstream acknowledgement will come some serious reckoning, and a study of the self. Yeh we like natural wines, but they actually have to be good! So how can natty winemakers make it happen?
Celebrity somms will start to fade
We are not entirely sure why sommeliers have become the rockstars of the wine industry, but for some reason they are. Lets not underestimate their importance on the wine business as the major influencers behind the wines we drink at different restaurants. We just wonder why people have become super famous for making lists. There was as well the massive cheating scandal that rocked the annual Master Sommelier exam and cast a shadow on the entire trade.
Younger drinkers are also drinking very differently from previous generations. They are more likely to explore and crave new and different experiences. While somms at hip restaurants can do that to an extent, there is more to wine than just drinking it with dinner. There is an opportunity for others in the industry to be a greater influence on how we drink.
The rise of the winemaker
Speaking of opportunities to influence a new generation of wine drinkers who seek exciting experiences. No better group is more capable and deserving to be the center of attention than winemakers across the world. We have seen winemakers like Joe Wagner of Meiomi, Dave Phinney of The Prisoner and Orin Swift, and of course Charles Smith grow these massive brands and take on rockstar status among wine lovers around the world. While outside of the mainstream hipper wine drinkers have been clamoring for small producers like Ariana Occhipinti, Frank Cornelissen, and Marcel Lapierre just to name a few. These phenomenons point to a growing trust and appreciation for the work of winemaker’s, especially when these winemakers share the same values that consumers do, for example being conscious about environmental and sustainability issues.
Winemakers can do this if they leave behind the tasting notes (figuratively) and focus more on their stories. Yes, you need to sell to sommeliers and retailers, but you need to market to consumers. Consumers will reward greater interaction, appreciation, and expression of shared values with greater loyalty and this is going to make a lot great winemakers very famous.
Pet-Nats continue to sparkle (ha!)
Pettilant Naturel, Methode Ancestral, Pet-Nats. Whatever you want to call them they are the sparkling wines that everybody will be raving about this year. These wines have been growing in popularity for years now and we have seen a lot of winemakers jump on the bandwagon with all sorts of offerings as they have become the sparkling option for the natural wine lover. For the most part these wines can be super funky and tart, much like a lot of natural wines, which has been somewhat of an issue for pet-nats to break into the mainstream.
Fortunately we have seen a lot of pettilant naturel offerings from talented winemakers that take this method more seriously than just putting a crown cap on their farmers juice and letting the bubbles come as they may. We have seen an increasing number of winemakers experiment with details like disgorgement to take a lot of the funk out. They make crisper, cleaner wines that marry the light effervescence of the methode ancenstrale with the elegance of traditional methods. Your summer rooftop parties are about to get a lot classier.
Glou glou and vins de soif will be on everybody’s lips
Are we more into acids or more into tannins this year? Are crushable reds over? Nonsense! As we continue to discover that there is a lot more to wine that Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa, Piedmont, and Tuscany we have found pockets of the world where wine is a bigger part of daily life. Wine is simpler, more relatable, more enjoyable. These wines made their ways to the cafes of Paris and then on to the rest of the world and we soon began to whisper terms like glou glou and vin de soif to each other. Crushable, easy drinking, lighter red wines became the next big thing in wine.
So will this trend continue or will it fade away? The truth is these easy drinking wines are the wines we have been waiting decades for and just wanted Robert Parker to shut up so we can enjoy them. Not every wine that we drink needs to be a massive bodied fruit bomb with lots of oak and a complex tannin structure. Instead we find that crushable wines have their place in our lives much the same way that classic wines do. I may have a Bordeaux or Burgundy with a great dinner, but if I am heading to a party I am going to take a vin de soif or if I am hanging with friends Im busting out something that is super glou glou.
Then again not all these wines that we would think of as glou glou are going to be super simple bottles of farmers juice. To be glou glou means that it is chuggable, crushable, but exciting! It grips you in a way that makes your jaw drop and your heart race. Wines from Beaujolais, Jura, and a lot of Etna Rosso wines are great examples of wines that are easy drinking but so enthralling that they put the notion of bright and light not being serious to rest. Get ready for these terms to creak into everyday descriptions of wine as a way of discerning what we want to drink to match the mood or situation we are in.
Its the environment stupid
This is a trend we have touched on with the growth of natural wine and the rise of the winemaker, but I feel like it also needs its own call out as a trend that will shape how we drink and buy wine in 2019. Wine drinkers are looking more and more for natural wine, but as I mentioned before the biggest driver behind the desire for natural wine is the feel good factor about the impact on the environment. As consumers look for more environmentally friendly and sustainable wines they are going to look deeper and further into the source of their wines. No, they aren’t going to be looking at the soil type (nobody has ever cared by the way) but they will care more about the farming and production techniques that brought the wine from their grape to the table.
So what is that going to look like? Modern wine lovers with a growing environmental conscience will look primarily for organic viticulture. This will be the easiest concept for most wine lovers to grasp. Although it may be an esoteric concept, more people will look for biodynamic wines. While a difficult concept to grasp, any wines that are certified biodynamic or use biodynamic practices to any extent will gain attention with wine lovers as being a next level in environmental conscious wine appreciation. In 2019 we will see wine lovers delve deeper into the source practices and e well versed in concepts like old vines, dry farming, and minimal intervention farming and winemaking techniques. This is the future of wine in the face of a difficult climate reality. These are the practices that will ensure the future. Wine lovers are going to be more than just wise to it, they will know that these are the practices that make better, more authentic wine.