Let’s start off by understanding current alcoholic preferences in United States. Beer is still king in this country at 40% of all alcohol drinkers. It is followed by wine at 30%, and liquor at 26%. Who knows what the other 4% drink. Although a recent Gallup Poll shows liquor catching up to wine at 29%, America is still the largest wine consuming nation in the world. Total wine sales in 2017 were $62.7 billion, a 3% increase from 2016. Wine sales continue to grow in this country despite beer being king, and liquor sales nipping at the wine’s heals. Wine is fun, and can be both trendy and fashionable. Americans really started expanding their wine tastes in the late 1980’s, and the last couple of decades have brought us different trends and tastes. Let’s look at a few hot trends in 2019.
Rose` is Here to Stay!
Or at least it seems like it. The biggest shift in this trend is that Americans are now drinking rose` throughout the year, not just when it is in season. According to Wine Master Dr. Liz Hatch, rose` leads all other wine categories in growth at a 59% increase in value from 2016 to 2017. The top selling rose’ country is France at 51%, followed by the U.S. at 37%, and Italy at 5%. Although France obviously dominates this category. People do seem to be opening up to new rose’ regions in Italy and Spain, not just Provence. However, there is a stigma beginning to form around the consumption of rose`. It is starting to be called the wine of “elites”, or worse yet “elite wannabes”. Not sure how this can stick, since rose` average prices points run between $11 and $15 per bottle. Those are not exactly elite prices. So keep on enjoying that wonderful glass of rose` that you love. If someone refers to you as being elite, just stick your pinky out and smile.
Exactly what is a Natural Wine? You’ll hear lots of discussion on this topic. As Ashley Santoro, Regional Beverage Director, The Standard, New York, NY recently stated in a wine article in Vinepair.com.
“Natural wines have become increasingly popular and recognized but without a lot of understanding. It’s hard to define what “natural” is and what it is not. I’m excited that the industry has been moving away from overusing the term “natural” and [is] instead defining wines by farming methods and the ethos of the individual winemaker.”
There actually is no agreed upon definition for Natural Wine. So here is a loose definition from “Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally” (1st Edition)
“The most excellent wine is one which has given pleasure by its own natural qualities, nothing must be mixed with it which might obscure its natural taste” (Columella)
Most people associate it with organic wine. But technically there are no rules for what constitutes a natural wine. The bottom line, natural wine seems to be wine that has little to nothing added to it during the wine making process. Especially sulfur dioxide, a common additive to help with fermentation widely used in the 1970’s and 80’s. All this being said, they are all the rage. With the definition being so vague, wineries are beginning to jump on the trend left and right. Many are defining their wines by their growing methods and then labeling themselves as natural. Many of the wines are very interesting, some are just fancy labeled and bleh. Just like any varietal you may like, if you find one that floats your boat, stick with it.
Buying Wine by the Six Pack
What was the biggest hit at the pool in our building this summer? Easy, it was canned wine. Something that 95% of wine drinkers would have turned their noses up at only 2 or 3 years ago. According to Cristie Norman, Sommelier and Wine Educator at Spago, Los Angeles, CA
“The best trend that I see right now is canned wine and other non-traditional vessels. … There is some really great stuff on the market that is cheap, accessible, and fun. (Try Ramona canned wine or Francis Ford Coppola’s Diamond collection Chardonnay if you don’t believe me!) I love being able to throw a can in my bag and take it to the pool with me. Wine doesn’t need a cork and glass bottle to be wine.”
She’s right, it doesn’t. Canned wine sales rose 43% between June 2017 and June 2018 according to vinepair.com. Canning actually makes wines more fun to drink. And although I’ve seen a few that were very overpriced, 30% or more than a better wine in a bottle, there are still many great tasting ones out there that are worth the price. I recommend trying Ava Grace Rose, any of the Underwoods, or Coppola Sauvignon Blanc to start. If you haven’t given canned wine a chance yet, now is the time,
The Mystery of Orange Wine
First, we need to understand two facts about Orange Wine: 1. Orange wine is not made from oranges. (Yes, people have asked me this) 2. Orange wine refers to a color. Any white wine varietal can be made into orange wine.
The ‘orange’ color comes from skin contact. We get orange wine when we ferment white wine the same way we ferment red wine, leaving the skin on. The color can range from golden-straw to vibrant orange, depending on how long the juice ferments with the skins. This process also gives us a bigger, bolder wine with bigger body and tannins. Making the characteristics much like red wine.
People seem to either love or hate orange wine. That combined with the fact that most people do not understand it, makes me wonder how long this trend will really last. In other words, I think it is more of a fad. As Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier Brett Chappell states:
“Here’s a caveat about orange wine. Just because the wine is a press and sommelier darling, the palate is different and not for everyone. The wines show tannin structure that is best experienced with fatty, salty food. At the prices some of these wines command, start simply; try a sub $20 Pinot Grigio Ramato. Ramato translated means copper-colored or auburn, an older term for the now-hip orange wine.”
Again, it’s not for everyone. But give it a taste. Try the Pino Grigio Ramato as Brett Chappell suggests. It’s a good start.
The Rise of Beaujolais
Beaujolais is becoming trendy, and for a good reason. As Wine Educator Brett Chappell said to me “Beaujolais is the easiest wine in the world to drink.” And he is right. It’s growing in popularity, and is worth your time to taste. Beaujolais is a French region located just south of Burgundy. So the wines drink similarly. The main difference is that the Beaujolais wine makers do not take themselves as seriously as their Burgundy counterparts. Which explains Beaujolais Nouveau, a young, bubble gummy, sweet, delight that comes out on the third Thursday of November each year. Consumers probably know Beaujolais Nouveau better than any other wine. But it doesn’t really represent the region properly.
The featured Beaujolais grape is Gamay Noir, it produces a light red wine that offers flavors such as raspberry, tart cherry, mushroom, smoke, banana, and bubble gum. The grape is low in tannins and high in acidity. Some more advice from Brett Chappell:
“While many Beaujolais are still made in a carbonic or semi-carbonic style leading to fresh and fruity wines, yet not tutti-frutti like Nouveau, serious producers also create bottlings that mimic the thoughtful style of their Burgundian neighbors. Look for wines from the ten best vineyard areas in Beaujolais (called crus) for the ultimate, food worthy options.”