Wine Trends

It's bottoms-up almost daily for the Millennials.

Last week I discovered that I’m from a different generation than my
three siblings because we were born on different sides of the 1965
cut-off for when the Baby Boom ended and Generation X began. But
neither they, as Boomers, nor I, as a GenXer, can claim the title of
the generation most likely to drink wine. This honor goes to the
Millennials — those upstarts born in or after 1977 —
because Wine Market Council statistics show that in their
generation, “core” wine drinkers consuming a glass somewhere between
daily and weekly outnumber “marginal” wine drinkers consuming one or
two glasses a month. And since the core segment of the wine-consuming
public has grown 60 percent since 2000 — compared to flat growth
in the marginal category and a 21 percent loss among beer and spirits
drinkers, it’s Millennials who are leading the Wineaux brigade.

With all the depressing stats out there these days, we were
heartened to see such uplifting ones and felt inspired to look at
— and drink to — some other trends in the wine
industry.

Organic wines. A recent survey of industry professionals
conducted by the Wine Opinions research group found that any indication
of “green” practices in a wine’s production was very likely to increase
the chances of that wine’s sale. Such practices might include growing
grapes organically or using organic winemaking methods. Both are
required if you want the words “organic wine” on your label, but in
terms of quality, organic winemaking is a risky path. We tried the
2007 “Our Daily Red” California Red Wine ($7.99), certified
organic and made by the Nevada County Wine Guild and felt that it
bolstered the argument for wines made with sulfur dioxide. The aroma
was all over the place — plum, leather, mint, menthol, and
eucalyptus — while the taste was subdued and light. Passable for
a picnic, but only if you really need the eco-cred.

New packaging. The survey also showed that boxed-wine
containers like the classic bag-in-a-box and newer Tetra Pak style are
likely to see a sales uptick. We can’t help but wonder if the cute
Tetra Pak containers don’t strike a chord of nostalgia in Millennials
weaned on juice boxes. To me the 250ML Tetra Pak of Glen Ellen’s
California Chardonnay ($5.99 for a four-pack)
was a delightful
surprise: peachy with a refreshing lack of artificial oak in the aroma;
light, lemony, and nicely balanced; and ending with a fruit-filled
flourish.

Regions to watch. No huge surprise that gains among countries
importing value wines to the US are projected to be highest among
Spanish, Chilean, and Argentinean reds, with growth expected among the
Carmenere, Tempranillo, Grenache, and Malbec varietals. Our Token
Winemaker couldn’t rave enough about the (oops) Carmenere Merlot
blend from Chile’s Valle Central ($11)
, finding its bouquet filled
with everything from cherries to chocolate brownies and its taste and
finish well-structured and pleasing.

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