Bottoms Up: What’s new for wine in 2012

It’s the holiday season and year’s end. Looking back, it’s certainly been an exciting year for wine. Rather than a traditional Christmas column, here are what I feel are the most important wine trends carrying into 2012. Some are positive and others, maybe not so. Why not pour yourself a glass of holiday cheer and listen up.

Higher Alcohol
It’s no secret that alcohol levels in wine are skyrocketing. You’d be hard pressed to find any today that are under 13%, and many 14+%. Reasons for this are numerous: global warming, faster acting yeasts, longer hang time of grapes on the vine, consumer desires, etc. In a world where drinking and driving laws are stricter than ever, it makes you wonder where this is all heading.

China is a blockbuster potential market for wine. With well over a billion inhabitants, and a keen interest in the nectar of the grape, especially red Bordeaux, it’s set to make a lot of producers of red pop very happy.

India and Brazil
Wine has been in existence throughout most of India’s history, but in the 1990s, a burgeoning middle class started to demand the beverage that has uplifted the industry. Brazilian wine would love to be on the world stage. Although their wines are very international in style and a bit pricey yet, their progress is slow. This will probably change.

Wine on the internet
More and more, wine information is being obtained from the internet and computers, ipads, tablets, smart phones, etc. are replacing paper as the venue of choice for retrieval. Even wine lists are now on ipads. Should continue on down the road!

Wines with a sense of place
“Terroir-driven” wines that reflect exactly where they are grown are hot commodities these days. “Terroir” is an all-encompassing word that reflects geography, soil, climate, lay of land, rainfall, etc. and really gives wine its indigenous character. Consumers love this concept.

Local wines
Folks that live near a wine region are more than happy to indulge in the local produce. This trend is increasing.

Break wine/food matching rules
Consumers are becoming much freer and more experimental in their wine/food compatibility. Whether because of food allergies, likes/dislikes or personal taste, the old “red wine with meat/white wine with fish” syndrome is losing ground as wine drinkers play around with wine/food matching.

Varietal wines
There’s no question that varietal wines, regardless of where they are produced, provide reliable, specific flavour profiles to the consumer. He or she has a pretty good idea of what to expect from a particular varietal even before sipping it.

Younger folks are drinking wine
The wine drinking demographic is changing. Now more and more younger folks, ages 19 to 34 years of age, are choosing wine over mixed drinks, cocktails, beer and spirits.

Wine tourism
Wine tourism is becoming huge for travellers. Folks want to visit wine regions and actually stay on wine estates where the grapes are grown and wine made. Many of these grow their own fresh produce and have farms with their own animals. The concept is called “agro-tourism” and many producers in wine regions are opening up their properties to this idea.

Homogenization of wine
One of the scarier trends, many producers, the world over, are blending non-traditional varietals into their wines, using the same new oak, and utilizing similar production methods, thus detracting from their indigenous character. Numerous “Old World” wines are tasting like “New World” wines and vice versa. If this keeps up, we’ll be swimming in a sea of well-made wines that will all taste similar, with little, if any, indigenous character. Not a good thing, in my opinion! Producers beware!

Edward Finstein, a.k.a. The Wine Doctor, is a wine writer, educator, judge &  consultant.

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