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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.

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Wines To Serve With Holiday Dinner

Whether you’re planning on celebrating Christmas with a ham, Hanukkah with brisket and potato pancakes, or Kwanzaa with soul food or African cuisine we’ll take the guesswork out of picking the wine.  We’ve included traditional dishes from around the world, too, so that you can celebrate however you want without worrying about the wine.


Kwanzaa is a secular holiday celebrated by African Americans in the United States honoring African-American traditions. It is based around seven core principles and includes colored candles in a Kenorah that are lit each night during the festival.

During Kwanzaa dinners, many eat soul food, from the American south, or African dishes. If you’re enjoying soul food, consider a sparkling rose wine, Gewurztraminer, or something with a little zip to cut through the gravy. Another option is to go sweet to balance out the savory flavors in the meal. Whatever you do, stay away from high tannin reds if your Kwanzaa meal will include greens – you don’t want to match bitter with bitter, it just never works.


Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the restoration of the temple including the miracle of a day’s worth of oil lasting eight days. Each night one candle in the Menorah is lit and prayed over to commemorate the miracle. While dishes are varied, many Jews, religious and secular, eat brisket as their main course. Along with brisket there are sidedishes loaded with carbs and cheese like latkes (potato pancakes) and blintzes. The best bet is sparkling wine, since the food is oily and the bubbles will keep the palate from being overwhelmed and lose its ability to taste. Stick to sparkling whites, like prosecco, for the best pairing.

Many American Jews enjoy a movie and Chinese food on Christmas Day, so if it’s takeout or a restaurant for you, be sure to check out our helpful guide to pairing wine with Chinese. Read More

The Grape Debate – Vinifera vs. Hybrid Grapes

Chances are if you’re drinking wine from South America, Europe, Australia or California you’re having a Chardonnay or a Riesling. A Merlot or Pinot Noir or Malbec. But what about other parts of the world? Parts that don’t have climates conducive to grapes and yet produce wine? What’s that all about?

Understanding Two Types Of Grapes

In winemaking, in addition to the two types of grapes we’re used to, red and white, there are also two others: Vitis vinifera and hybrid. And these grapes are a favorite topic to debate by wine lovers off all kinds. In this post we’ll break them down so that you can understand and evaluate for yourself which side of the debate you’re on.

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