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Forecast: 2016 Wine Trends

Happy New Year! In March, 2015, we took a look at what we thought the big trends in wine would be for 2015. This month we’ll look at how those turned out and give you are predictions for 2016.

What We Predicted & How It Turned Out

  • Cheap Sweet Reds: We predicted that cheap sweet reds would be a big deal in 2015 but they didn’t blow up quite as much as we thought. That said, there does seem to be a rising awareness of an interest in Lambrusco, a sweet red that can be still, slightly fizzy, or sparkling. Maybe 2016 will see some cheap Lambrusco flood the market?
  • Common Man Criticism: Will he? Won’t he? It seems like rumors of Robert Parker’s retirement spark up every few years. He didn’t retire in 2015 but we have seen some of our trend come true. While common man criticism has not taken off (yet), we have noticed rising popularity in tasting notes that are more approachable. Club W, the popular wine by mail club, rarely uses traditional tasting notes and instead drops descriptors that make everyone perk up and say, “Oh, I totally know what that tastes like!”.
  • Portable Wine: We nailed it! Tetra packs are popping up everywhere, including on lists of award winners. While cans haven’t quite caught on, you can find Bandit Wines at many local retailers, including Target.
  • Portuguese Whites: Put another tally in the no column. Despite believe that Portugal would turn out lots of white wines, the country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula is still better known for its white wines.
  • Return To Classics: In some ways, we couldn’t have been more wrong on this one. The explosion of biodynamic wines and more vineyards moving toward green (and green-washed) was evident throughout the year with lots of blogs touting the trend. Even high end producers of classic wines are doing what they can to save wine, produce organically, and dabbling in biodynamics.
  • Rhone Wines: Another we were right about. Check out local newspapers, foodie magazines, and blogs and you’ll see 2015 was a year of spicy food with lots of Rhone wines paired thanks to their ability to complement the cuisine without overpowering and without having their flavors and feels diminished by the heat and flavor of the food.
  • Small Vineyard As King: Winedom is on a roll. 2015 was the year of the small vineyard. Whether it’s wine tourism or, more specifically, wine clubs, the small vineyard is raking it in by taking advantage of the U.S. getting more lenient about shipping alcohol. Tiny vineyards in California can ship to nearly all 50 states and wine lovers are willing to pay a premium to taste wines they’ve only ever heard and read about. If you live in the U.S. it can be tough to navigate shipping – the postal service is federal but will not ship alcohol. States, therefore, determine the rules and who can ship (FedEx and UPS being the companies getting the most business) – it changes regularly but is worth following. Pennsylvania and Utah maintain strict rules along with a smattering of southern states but it is possible to find wine clubs that can get to almost everywhere.
  • Rieslings: The popularity of Riesling, thanks to its being one of the best studies of terroir continued through 2015 with a focus being on Rieslings across the spectrum from dry to sweet. The Riesling swing should continue through 2016 based on how much its popularity increased during late 2015.
  • Virginia, Texas, and New Jersey: Looks like we jumped the gun on these. While they are definitely growing it will likely be a few more years before we see a tremendous trend toward wine from these regions but Virginia will definitely be first. And don’t forget you heard it here!
  • Honey: While honey made a splash in the skincare world, it didn’t pop up as much as we thought in the wine world.

Our Predictions for 2016

It’s a new year so let’s make some more predictions. Here’s what we think could happen in 2016 based on current happenings, buzz, and general conjecture about the wine world.

  • Climate Dictates Taste: Back in April 2015 we shared that climate change was having an effect on people’s taste in wine. A general warming overall meant that more and more drinkers were being exposed to wines with the hallmark of warm climate wines: lower acidity, riper flavors, higher alcohol. Climate will continue to drive a desire for these flavors but might also bring about winemakers in regions like Argentina and Chile heading even higher into the mountains to leash the micro-climates and bring more cold climate wines to the world.
  • Natural Wins: The “natural” craze continues whether it’s gluten-free, farm to table, organic, or biodynamic and the internet is blowing up about this trend continuing in wine. With food being a huge part of culture and narrative being important to consumers expect to learn more about the back story of wines being a marketing point as well as more organic, low impact, and biodynamic wines on the market. Some have predicted the addition of additives used in wine… a content list about more than just the grapes in the bottle.
  • The Continued Decline of Champagne: The world is in love with Prosecco and English sparklers have popped up and will continue to do gain popularity. Add to that American sparkling wine getting noticed and the high prices of Champagne are becoming more and more of a deterrent for shoppers who want a great sparkler and can get it cheaper.
  • New Is The New Old: Wine predictors think millenials, as they grow up, will discover Rhone and other classic regions but the rest of us who’ve been drinking wine for a little longer will move toward three things that involve the idea of “new”. First, we’ll look for new varietals – the harder to pronounce the better. Second, we’ll look to the New World, especially South Africa and Australia. Third, we’ll look at some old regions that are newly on the radar: keep an eye out for wines from Croatia and Georgia, which brings us to our final prediction for 2016…
  • The Year Of ORANGE WINE: It’s no secret that we love orange wine here at Winedom and 2016 is looking like it might be the year when this wine really explodes on the scene. Look for grapes you know from cooler areas of countries you know, and grapes you’ve never heard of from Croatia and Georgia. The wines will have drastically different tastes because of grapes and methods, which makes it even more fun.

We’ve cut our predictions down to 5 for 2016 to try and focus on things likely to happen but only time will tell. Which was your favorite trend of 2015? Which from 2016 do you think we’ve nailed? And what do you want to see in wine this coming year? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments, on Facebook and Twitter!

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