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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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