Wine Trends And Predictions – What’s To Come!

By Leslee Miller

From distribution, to restaurateurs, educators and more – the wine community is already rewriting their lists and planning their curriculum for what looks to be another exciting year in wine. As anticipation builds and we dive into what’s to come for the world of wine, I thought I’d put together my most wanted list of wine predictions and trends to catch for readers. Let’s go!

Place & Grape
Terroir, Terroir, Terroir! More and more, I find as a wine educator, that my classes are not only filled with anxious enthusiasts looking to expand their knowledge of wine, but are looking to actually ‘connect’ with wine on a more personal level. Knowledge of unusual grapes has been a hot topic for many of my classes, but also ‘time and place’. Terroir, by all meaning of the word, is really the all-encompassing life of a grape. Years ago, it took on the definition of ‘how the grape was grown’ (weather of the vintage, soil, age of vine and how and where the vine was planted). Today, not only does it take on the above meaning, but it also includes how the grape is handled inside the winery (barrel/stainless steel, extraction of skin flavor, yeasts – indigenous vs. commercial, racking methods and how/how long the wine is aged). The more my class attendees learn more about the wine’s history, the family who made it, the cuisine of the region, how the actual grape was handled, the vintage and the terroir of the grape – the more they feel connected. I see this trend continuing to grow as we stretch further into the year.

I must say there is still that need for drinking juice that equals what you paid for it. Over the years, the trends have been to pay more and more for new world cult-styled wines in the world. If the Wine Spectator gave the wine 95pts, then most feel they’ll pay any price to have it. Yet, my prediction stands…the value driven consumer will continue to rise BUT also demand that the wine tastes like the price that they paid for it. Spain, Portugal, Germany & Austria are my trends for those regions that will continue to deliver wine worth the price you’ve paid for them!

Wine Focused Restaurants
Have you noticed more wine bars, wine education experiences and more wine tastings pop up in your area? The past couple of years have shown a great improvement in wine lists nationwide. Not only are wine lists shorter in restaurants, but the emphasis for education and selections based on ‘place & grape’ and terroir are really coming along. My prediction is for even MORE of this behavior, with big improvements to the scene for variation of grape and region for lists within restaurants.

Rosés, Sparklers & Yep, Merlot!
Last but not least, the category of wine styles. First and foremost, I think we’re finally starting to understand that PINK does not equal SWEET. If it was good enough for the French 100yrs ago, then it must be good for us, right? Dry rosés from every corner of the globe will be on the rise for 2017. Next, sparkling! My favorite category. More and more, we’re also understanding that sparkling wines should not be saved for just special occasions. From France, Germany and Spain, sparkling drinkers are on the rise. 2016 showed over a 3% increase of Champagne imports in the U.S. alone. So yes, this is the year that we see everything, sparkly! Lastly, Ms. Merlot. Let her time to shine be this next year. Winemakers worldwide will start single bottling Merlot again as this gorgeous lady grape makes her way underneath the ‘Sideways’ (movie) bus wheel to reclaim her throne as ‘Queen of Grapes’ from Pinot Noir. Go, Merlot, go!

There you have it! A sommelier’s look into the wine drinker’s mind of this year’s hottest trends and predictions for 2017. What are your predictions? And, how might you expand your wine drinking habits to change with the wine times? Cheers to one glass at a time! Clink Clink.