Grape Expectations: Wine predictions for the New Year

MORE “20-SOMETHING” WINE DRINKERS

Millennials are drinking more wine than Boomers. One estimate predicts that millennials will hold the largest share of U.S. wine consumption in 2026.

“Millennials have shown limited interest in the lowest-price wine segment, and as a result they made an outsize contribution to the growth of premium wines,” according to L.E.K. Consulting. “They also demonstrate a high propensity to explore, favoring ‘new experiences’ and varietals when making wine purchase decisions.”

PROSECCO ON THE RISE
Less formal and expensive, prosecco is fast catching up with champagne. It now accounts for almost 20 percent of sparkling wine sales.

“Price is key when it comes to prosecco; more than 30 percent of sparkling wine purchases are based on price, and prosecco is well positioned as a mid-tier price offering within sparkling wine,” according to Nielsen research.

ROSÉ: THE “IT” WINE
Sales of the pink wine are booming. “Once regarded as a sweet drink fit only for an unsophisticated palate, rosé is on the rise in the U.S., with a climbing ‘hip’ quotient translating into a boom in sales,” according to Forbes.

It is a popular “middle ground” for consumers who prefer sweet or dry white wines. There is now rosé in cans, rosé in cardboard cartons, even “frosé,” where rosé is served up like a frozen margarita.

“The data show it: Rosé, a happy-hour favorite and faithful companion on sweltering midsummer weekends, is officially the pink drink of the year,” according to QZ.com.

“DRINKING IN” IS WINNING OUT
Instead of going out and spending $10 or more on a single glass, more people buy entire bottles to consume at home.

“Do you often have a glass of wine when you go out to eat, or do you drink your wine at home that you bought from a store?” asks WineVoice.com. “People want to drink wine by the bottle at home, rather than spend a little extra money on a glass of wine while they’re out.”

EYE-CATCHING WINE LABELS

Similar to wine trends in 2018, packaging matters. Young wine lovers are focused more on what catches the eye.

“Millennial consumers often look to the label to seek information about the value of the wine, rather than reading journals or industry reports, which is a shift from previous generations,” according to a study by Portland State University.

WINE IN A CAN
Canned wine isn’t just a passing fad — it’s a $45 million business, according to Nielsen. Sales of canned wine grew 43 percent in the U.S. from June 2017 to June 2018, according to BW 166, a beverage alcohol market research firm.

Vino Noceto Winery in Amador County offers its Frivolo white wine in a can. “It’s slightly spritzy. It’s super refreshing. And now it’s in a can! Get a half of a case of Frivolo in a can to bring on a boat, to the pool, and out camping,” according to the winemaker.

CABERNET FRANC FROM AROUND THE WORLD
“Continuing the trend for fruit-driven, lighter-style reds, Cabernet Franc from the Loire is a common feature on most premium wine lists,” reports TheDrinksBusiness.com. “However, the latest trend shows that half of premium lists will feature one or more varietal Cabernet Francs from elsewhere in the world.”

The list is not limited to a single country, with examples from South Africa, California, Chile and Canada. At Sierra Starr Vineyards in Grass Valley, for example, the estate Cabernet Franc vineyard—planted in 1997 and 1998 — is producing award-wining wines.

WINE SLUSHIE
“The idea may be an affront to traditionalists. However, we think the wine slushie is here to stay and that it’s going to have a breakthrough year in 2019,” according to the XtraWine blog.

The wine slushie is a novelty being offered at more restaurants, even wineries. In Lodi, Viaggio Estate & Winery blends fresh fruit with its chardonnay, malbec and sangiovese into frosty libations.

(Photo: Charlotte Peterson)

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