I’ve been reading up on predictions for wine trends in 2017, in part because I just need a reason to be optimistic that this year has some promise. There are a few that caught my eye. Industry people are predicting wine lists will get shorter, more hip and easy to read. Wines on tap will likely be expanding, if for no better reason than their cost effectiveness. And wines in a can, such as Underwood, are expected to grow their market share by quite a bit (again, cost effectiveness comes into play here).
But everywhere I looked, one recurring item kept popping up. It looks like bubbles will be big this year. It seems like every blog and every article I checked had some bold prediction about the future of carbonated juice. I, for one, welcome a greater footprint for sparkling wine. I’ve always thought too many people reserve it for cocktails and celebratory toasts. There’s a rich and varied array of sparklers out there, and they can fill many niches.
One prediction on which I’ll be keeping my eye is the possible rise in upscale cava. Cava is a Spanish sparkling white wine made and uses methode champenoise—essentially using the same method French champagne makers use. This separates them from Italian prosecco, which is created by different means altogether. In the Champagne region, the last round of fermentation takes place in the bottle rather than in the vat.
Most folks have probably tasted cava, even if they didn’t know it. Cavas are routinely used as banquet wines in large venues for weddings and other events which call for a toast among a large number of people. It’s best known for its affordability—I mean, it can be downright cheap—and drinkability.
But 2017 might be the year which changes cava’s image. Some higher-end cava’s are expected to hit the US market, and I expect big things. Spain has issued a new designation, Cava de Paraje Calificado, to mark better quality sparkling wine leaving its shores. Literally translated to “cava from a qualified place,” it denotes a sparkling wine of better quality.
Several writers are calling for a resurgence of sparkling reds. My experience with them in years past has been mixed. I usually enjoy the first glass and then never want to see one again for months. I expect more subtle offerings this year than I’ve seen in the past. And in the Cape Fear region, where heat and humidity affect our drinking habits, chilled and bubbly reds might find a home.
By the way, for those who have no interest in bubbles, there are two political stories that may impact the wine industry. A number of English wines either hit the US market in 2016 or will in early 2017. But their hopes may rise and fall with Brexit, so keep an eye on that. Some industry speculators are banking on charting the Washington cache of President Trump by watching the fortunes of his Virginia winery, suspecting when people are buying his juice, he’ll have clout, and when sales stall, he won’t be able to muster any political capital to advance his agenda.
That may be more than readers care to think about over their next drink, but … the more you know.
Of course, wine trends are meaningless when faced with the question of what to pour in a glass. While it can be fun to look at what’s hot in the rest of the world, we should never be slaves to trends. I encourage everyone to try new things, but if you’re happier with a cold Budweiser, err, America, then drink the … no, scratch that. If all you’re drinking is Bud, then it is time to expand your horizons.
Try something new this year, but never give up on the drinks you already love. And enjoy this year’s trends, but always remember: They’re just trends. We had them last year and we’ll have them again next year.