Pour yourself a glass of the good stuff, it’s time to find out what’s new for wine in 2017!
Historically, fine wine was consumed by the upper echelon, golden taste-budded elite, but we’ve now entered an era where it’s become democratized for the average consumer.
Beginning in the 1970s and continuing to today, this is an age where any concoction of the happy grape that fits the ranks of “pretty darn good” is sold at affordable prices at accessible locations. No longer is decent wine locked deep in a cellar under a historic restaurant with a million dollar menu, but anyone can pick up a bottle at Costco.
This democratization doesn’t just have to do with accessibility and taste – it has to do with information too. Blogs like the Reverse Wine Snob, which run according to the mantra, “Thumbing Your Nose at Bottles Over $20” have grown in popularity, helping frugal wine lovers find a bottle that both tickles their palate and goes easy on their wallet, while, of course, educating them about wine itself.
Along with this open arms culture, wine consumption is on the up and up. According to the Wine Institute, Americans drank 1.77 gallons of wine per resident in 1995. In 2015, Americans drank 2.83 gallons per resident, with a total consumption of 913 million gallons country wide. (It’s important to note too, that these numbers are slightly skewed as they are based on census data that includes minors. The numbers would be higher if solely based on the legal drinking population.)
So what does that mean for the industry? As more and more adults take up the grape and fine wine is passed over for table wine, we’re seeing a great demand on the industry for innovation, in addition to greater fluctuations in trends.
In this guide, we uncork what’s coming to a rack near you.
NEW FLAVORS AND STYLES
The new fearlessness surrounding wine begins with flavor. No longer relegated to specific moments or occasions, wine is now welcome wherever – whenever. From weekday bubbly to rosé for dinner to a new kind of slushie, you can put a cork in everything you thought you knew about fermented grape juice.
Sparkling: The bubbles are back, but not just for special occasions. Prosecco has become a ‘weekday luxury.’ Now available at many establishments by the glass, ordering bubbles is as common as ordering a glass of pinot. It’s no wonder that VineExpo speculates that global sparkling wine consumption could rise by 7.4% in 2019, hitting 2.7 billion bottles. Small, cutting edge wineries are also getting creative with their bubbly affairs. Take Lake Breeze’s Bench Bubbles for example. A bubbly that tastes as friendly as it looks, Bench Bubbles hones in on a double trend: bubbly and rosé. Which brings us to our next point…
Rosé: Yes way, rosé. For winos everywhere, rosé has become the go-to warm weather drink. For years, rosé went unloved, a case of “guilty by association” because of its pink color. Pink meant white zinfandel, meant sweet, meant cheap. White zinfandel has of course historically been a gateway wine, reserved for just-legal adults dabbling in their first tastes. But rosé now lives in sophisticated, young professional happy hours and post-work drinks. It is more or less the same as a white zin, essentially the same grape; it’s just drier – and most importantly – marketed better. Consumers have caught on that rosés are actually great for food pairing and easy drinking. In fact, according to usatradetasting.com, “the only segment of the US wine market that is growing faster than the ‘premium dry rosé’ category is the ‘(sweet) red blend’.” Stocking rosé isn’t just for summer months either. According to Gary Fisch, owner of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey, “We will see more rosé than ever before this summer. We even began seeing some winter rosé.”
Syrah: The king of the big red, Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is making a comeback. Made from a dark-skinned grape, Syrah is a full bodied red that goes great with BBQ’d meats, hearty steaks, and most holiday foods.
Red Blends: They’ve been hailed the “craft beer of the wine category.” And they’re a huge growing trend. According to neilson.com, “In the 52 weeks ending Sept. 12, 2015, red blends generated value growth of 8.7% and volume growth of 3.2%, with U.S. produced red blends leading the charge, growing at 11.0% on dollars and +4.8% on volume.” In addition to their value growth, they’re hitting the wine market fiercely, as more than 40% of new wine are blends. And this is a good thing for consumers and winemakers alike. As it turns out, the red blend is a pleasure to make and to drink.
Blue Wine: Red or white? Of course. Pink? Ok, fine. But.. blue? Emerging trend or doomed to fail, blue wine has appeared on the market: Gïk Live is a Windex colored wine, birthed by six young entrepreneurs with no winemaking experience, who are known to be critical of the wine industry, terming it, “the most traditional and close-minded industry out there”. So how is blue wine made? According to the Guardian, “They take a wine “base” that mixes red and white grapes, and add two organic pigments, one of which, anthocyanin, is found in grape skin. Then, hey presto: you’ve got an alcoholic drink that wouldn’t look out of place at a student union happy hour.” Love it, hate it, try it once, or leave it forever, the mouthwash lookalike wine is evidence of coming innovations to the wine market, where winemakers can feel free to experiment for the sake of creating something new. We can get on board with that. But first, we must tackle the sudden urge to floss!
Wine Slushies: When sangria is no longer enough, 2017 is positioned to see the popularity of the wine slushie. We repeat: WINE SLUSHIE. It’s easy for restaurants to make: throw wine, fruit and ice into a blender and press crush. Likely, it will be easy for restaurants to sell too. It’s a wonder they haven’t been in vogue sooner.
LABELS AND PACKAGING
Not much often changes in the world of wine. There are bottles with corks and there are bottles with twist tops. But just as wine itself has become more democratized, accessible, and playful, so too has its vessel. Cans and Tetra Pacs have become much more commonplace, and labels are not taking themselves so seriously. Looks like 2017 is the year of fun for wine.
Wine by the Can: “Sssssssst, ahhhh” that favorite beverage sound now applies to wine. Now saving crystal glasses everywhere, canned wine for chilled whites and rosés is hitting the shelves for the casual wine drinker – or the clumsy connoisseur. Take Union Wine for example, who has decided to spearhead the “beerification of wine”. In this TrendHunter article, owner Ryan Harms said, “We wanted to come up with a product that embodied our company’s philosophy of making great craft wine minus all the fuss.”
Tetra Pak Wine: You may have already started seeing Tetra Paks of wine at the checkout of your local liquor store. While cartons of wine have been a “thing” for the last couple of years, wine is now being packaged in single-serving sizes. With a similar look to a childhood juice box, boxed wine might initially provoke consumers to question the quality of the wine. But therein lies the opportunity. Bandit Wines articulates the benefits of their enviro-friendly boxes with the following: “Because we’re able to save money on glass and cork, we have more cash to pour into the quality of our wine. So before you judge a box by its cover, unscrew the top, pour yourself a glass of one of our award-winning varietals, and take a sip.” Not only are they easy on the outdoors, but they’re great for the outdoors. Imagine one of these sip-sized boxes at a campsite or after a big hike – perfect!
Honest Labels: These wines embody the kind of things you say once you’ve polished off the whole bottle. Appealing to Millennials’ love for things that mirror themselves – “oh, FriendX would so say that!”, or “that’s so me right now” – wine companies are producing tongue-in-
cheek labels in order to sell bottles. VinePair has one called, Drink Me with Post Break Up Anger and Takeout. BC Winery, Church and State, has an entire line of wines that have lost their inhibitions, with bottles that feature pithy titles like, Hold my glass and watch this.
The biggest trends in wine this year are that of wine’s drastic personality makeover. Out goes stuffiness and shame and in comes personal preference, bigger glasses, casual encounters, and an all around feeling of joie de vivre. Though we can’t tell if it’s us – or the wine – that’s responsible.
By the Glass: Following the “you do you” ethos of today’s consuming generation, consider the half carafe 86’d. For consumer flexibility, the 9oz glass has taken its place. No more “he wants red, she wants white” at the dinner table. Wine’s state of democratization, has freed consumers to become curious and try new blends of their own preference, not the waiter’s. With the 9oz glass, this is more possible than ever, and restaurants are catching on: “Les 110 de Taillevent, a relaxed, less-expensive version of the iconic Paris restaurant, opened a branch in London in October, with – get this – 110 wines by the glass. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Dirty Water opened in the Twitter building in July with 114 options priced from US$10 to $300.”
Fine Dining isn’t Dying – It’s Being Reborn: We’re skipping the formalities and the ceremony, as are many patrons. Fine dining, the way we commonly know it, is heading to its grave and new age fine dining is taking its place. It’s a style without the coat tails or the caviar. As one CN Traveler article put it, “Little hints of fine dining’s luxury—whether it’s elegant stemware, high-grade linens, or clever tasting menus—are making a comeback, according to [Eric Ziebold of Kinship]. In fact, the very notion of luxury is undergoing a redefinition, by which attention to detail and stuffiness are permanently severed.” Restaurants and wineries alike are learning that, like Jordan Salcito of Momofuku Group said, “You can care about craft and quality without being stiff.”
Drinking In: Blame the Netflix and chill movement, or other more likely economic factors, like the rising cost of living in urban settings, but some reports show that consumers are bringing more wine home and drinking less wine in restaurants. According to the Winerist, “It’s not just the wine sales that are down, beer sales are down as well. In fact, sales were down 1.6% in 2015, and continued to decline. So this could be something you will continue to see in 2017. The average income for 2016 just wasn’t high enough for bars and restaurants to raise their on- premise sales. People are less willing to splurge while they’re out. So the decline of on premise wine sales won’t come as a shocker in 2017.” Time to bring back that happy hour special!
Wine Truck: Coming to a festival near you, we introduce: the wine truck! Following the food truck mania that has swept the nation, wineries are going where the getting is good. Take the vintners of Saint-Emilion, for example: “This pop-up tasting room on wheels will make 15 to 20 stops at jazz festivals, wine fairs, and antique markets in four French regions: southwest France, Pas de Calais, Brittany, and Alsace starting in March 2017. A sommelier-driver will pour the rotating 16 wines, alongside winemakers, who will arrive at every stop.” While emerging in regions where liquor licences are a little more lax, we can anticipate a North American twist in the coming years.
Along with the democratization of wine, cheaper, delicious bottles, and the decline of fine dining, wine culture is opening its historically distinguished arms to the everyman. What’s more is that Sommeliers are recognizing that everyone wants access to affordable wine, but that consumers are becoming more educated and aren’t satisfied with alcoholic grape juice. To meet this demand, winemakers are getting creative, working within the price box in order to create wines that are highly palatable and affordable.
Wine for Everyone: Culturally, casual drinking wines have transcended their “cheap” stigma. Expensive bottles are considered a treat to be indulged in. And consumers are thirsty not just for wine, but knowledge on the story of the wine, it’s production, and how exactly it’s come to be. As Ben Jordan of Early Mountain Vineyard’s said, “Younger generations are discovering wine in a culture that is no longer stuffy or intimidating, and with so much knowledge at their fingertips, they are embracing diversity at a time when delicious wine can be found far from the famous regions. They are just as likely to seek a quality, meaningful experience from a Chenin Blanc or a little known variety from a local producer as they are from a blue chip or status symbol bottle.”
Interactive Wine Lists: “Excuse me, what year is this vintage?” There’s an app for that. Restaurants and wineries alike are using interactive wine lists that customers can take tableside to learn more about the selection of wine. The server has the option of handing their tablet over to the customer with the description, while adding their own flavor verbally as well. Or alternatively, for establishments that choose to place iPads on the table, customers can peruse at their own leisure.
Wine Apps: The paradox of choice has never been so apparent than when it comes to choosing a bottle of wine. There are simply so many to choose from, so many different taste profiles, and so many different considerations. So thank goodness for wine apps, which have taken the democratization of wine to the next level. Users now have the option of reading social reviews, getting recommendations based on their taste profiles and what’s around them.
Here are a couple apps to look out for:
- Delectable: “Scan a bottle to learn more about it, get expert recommendations and tasting notes.”
- Hello Vino: “The free Hello Vino app helps the everyday wine shopper with their purchases, acting as a personal wine assistant.”
- Drync: “Drync allows wine drinkers to scan, track, share and purchase wine instantly. Just snap a photo of a label, click buy, and the wine is on its way.”
Good wine has never been more accessible or affordable. Enthusiasts aren’t just mere consumers – they have the power to be connoisseurs of their own making. While new wine trends are shaped year-over-year, dependant on climate and evolving tastes, the future of wine is uncertain but exciting. As we become more educated about wine, we venture to try new blends, refine our palates, and acquire new tastes. And yet, even while apps are available at the swipe of a screen, blogs profligate the internet, ruminating endlessly about the latest blends, for the average consumer, the best way to find the perfect bottle of wine is not so much about sourcing 1000 pages of expert knowledge. It’s about your own personal research: trying the wine for yourself. A task, for most, that’s happily done.