As we head into yet another year of unknown circumstances, one thing is for sure: the wine will continue to flow. After speaking with numerous industry figures across the US and elsewhere on the key wine trends set to appear and disappear in 2022, we reveal what the new year has in store for wine lovers.
Wine trends 2022
Looking to other regions
Of all predicted wine trends for 2022, seeking out under-the-radar regions was the unanimous response. Lewis Kopman, co-founder of New York-based Portuguese wine importer Grossberg/Kopman Selections, attributes the recent inability of the average consumer to afford the ‘classics’ (Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne specifically). ‘Consumers have been forced to be more creative about the great wine that they consume and, as a result, you’ve seen the growth of other categories like Santa Barbara in California or the Canary Islands and Gredos in Spain, for example,’ he says, noting that as prices for classics fast become even less attainable, the traditional collector will start looking into these other regions as well.
Robin Wright, beverage director of Italian restaurant Ci Siamo in New York, agrees. ‘I think people will continue venturing out of their comfort zone in 2022, moving away from the traditional French and American labels, and drinking more esoteric wines from lesser-known regions throughout Italy and the rest of Europe,’ she says, citing Corsica, Slovenia and Switzerland as examples.
Jason Sorrell, sales manager at national wine importer Vineyard Brands, agrees. He attributes the shift from classics to overall supply chain shortages. ‘Consumers are going to have to go outside their normal boxes and explore wines from alternative locations,’ he says, suggesting Sancerre lovers look to South African Sauvignon Blanc as a logical wine swap. Sorrell adds that Champagne shortages will likely cause an increased demand for Cava, crémants and other sparkling wines). His colleague, Chris Birnie-Visscher, agrees. ‘With the severe shortage of Burgundy, markets will to have to look at other alternatives, whether from Chile or South Africa. And as prices go up dramatically, consumers are going to start looking for new wines to try.’
Value-driven wines and wines with a story
In addition to lesser-known regions, Wright also foresees an increasing desire for wines with a backstory – and which don’t break the bank. ‘I expect we’ll see more of a renewed focus on value-driven wines with a compelling narrative,’ she says, citing that Ci Siamo’s diners are more interested than ever in learning about the winemakers behind each bottle. ‘Consumers are also focusing on a sense of place and responsible farming practices,’ she adds.
Palate expansion and consumer curiosity
Because of the above issues, Heini Zachariassen, founder of online wine platform Vivino, believes that a rise in diversity will come into play. ‘With the supply challenges of 2021 likely being realised in early 2022, I believe we will see the industry continue to push a more diverse range of wines,’ he says. ‘While discovery becomes crucial out of necessity, wine drinkers who are naturally curious will embrace the opportunity to branch out.’
Zachariassen also feels that brands will become more innovative. ‘My hunch tells me we will see more of the industry innovating to reach a younger demographic, especially as wine loses market share to spirits and non-alcoholic alternatives.’ He believes that wine producers will refresh their approach to reach the younger wine drinker, and do so via delivery options, online platforms, marketing and beyond.
New York-based Denise Barker of Denise Barker Wine, noticed that while hosting virtual tastings during the pandemic, many consumers were having conversations around natural wine. ‘It’s definitely gaining popularity among wine crowds in the Midwest and Central US, beyond just urban markets,’ she says. ‘The intrigue around what natural wine is and how to get it seems to be growing beyond big cities and will continue to gain popularity in my opinion.’
Ryan Tate of New York merchant Windmill Wine & Spirits agrees: ‘People will continue to realise that natural wine has been around forever, and that even the storied houses and labels have been [making wine in this style] from the outset.’
Non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines
David Bruno, founder of Massachusetts retailer Départ Wine, is already seeing a shift towards non-alcoholic alternatives. ‘From botanical apéritifs like Figlia, Proteau and Ghia to tea-based kombuchas by Yes Folk, Unified Ferments and Heirloom, to wine proxies from Acid League and Jukes, the category and quality has never been higher,’ he says.
Matt Kaner, brand ambassador for Wine Proxies, a non-alcoholic wine replacement made by Canadian vinegar company Acid League, agrees. ‘After an extended debauched period fuelled by Covid-19, we will snap to our senses as a community and find a way to moderate our drinking,’ he says, noting that more than 50% of Americans have already reported that they’re seeking to drink less.
Margaux Reaume, co-founder of California-based wine and experience platform Argaux, feels the same. ‘A trend that I’m already seeing picking up traction is low-alcohol wines, particularly among consumers that are trying to cut back but don’t want to give up their evening ritual,’ she says.
Supply chain issues
Sadly, supply chain issues will be a serious reality in 2022. However, Lexi Jones, co-founder of California’s Amlière Imports, feels that this will lead to a focus on quality. ‘2022 will be the year of sustainability. As the supply chain continues to impact our industry globally, it will be more important than ever to support small-production wines and those who are ecologically friendly,’ she says.
Vanessa Conlin MW, head of wine at US-based online platform Wine Access, predicts that shipping delays will last beyond September 2022, which will cause disruption for consistent supply – and in turn, cause prices to rise. ‘Additionally, the tragic frost and hail in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley will be felt by consumers as wines from these classic regions will be shipped to the US in smaller quantities. The impact of the fires in Napa of 2020 will also begin to be felt,’ she explains. As a result, wines that would have traditionally been released this year will either be released in lower quantities or not released at all.
Rosé year round
Callum Jeffery of New York merchant Le Du Wines, has found that consumers are becoming more and more open to rosé in winter, which he attributes to the popular style of ‘crushable’ and lighter-bodied reds. Angela Oemcke of Australian online wine marketing platform Cellr feels similarly. ‘I think we’ll see more fresh and fruity wines made with carbonic maceration, often seen in the natural wine scene,’ she says.
Red wine decline
However, some feel differently. Vivino’s Zachariassen believes that red wine will continue to see moderate declines in favour of white, sparkling and rosé. ‘Our pandemic behaviours will stick, as wine drinkers have started to notice that sparkling wine tastes just as good in sweatpants as it does in a suit,’ he says, citing that Vivino has seen a strong growth in interest in fizz across a variety of price points. ‘We also see consumers drinking rosé and white all year long, but I think it will be a big year for sparkling rosé in particular.’
Like natural wine, many feel that skin-contact wine will see continued popularity in 2022. ‘I think we’ll see more and more orange styles,’ says Oemcke, who has noticed an abundance of orange still wines being made from Muscat of Alexandria, Riesling and even Zibibbo.
Ci Siamo’s Wright agrees. ‘I’ve been impressed by how much orange wine from Italy and Slovenia we’ve been selling,’ she states, adding that consumers’ curiosity in skin-contact wines is linked to wanting to know the stories behind the wines. ‘With this interest comes a desire to better understand the producers themselves,’ she says. ‘I expect we’ll also continue to see consumer interest in wines from female winemakers and black-owned wineries in 2022.’
Similar to a rise in lower-alcohol wines, many feel that consumers will also seek out low- and no-sulphite wines. ‘Customers realise that producers can now make wines without sulphites that are not deviant,’ says Antonin Bonnet, sommelier at New York’s Benoît. ‘The process is way better handled now, and some top-quality producers have embraced it and are leading the way.’
Bonnet says the trend towards lower sulphites first started in Paris, then moved to London and Montréal, and is now gaining traction across urban markets everywhere – particularly in areas like Brooklyn in New York where consumers ‘pay attention to what they drink’.
Traditional-method sparkling beyond Champagne
Allie Nault, of retailer Knead Wine in Virginia, believes that 2022 will be the year for wine consumers to expand their palates and experience sparkling wines that drink like Champagne, though hail from outside of the region. ‘We’re experiencing a shortage of many wines from around the globe, with Champagne being one of the hardest-hit,’ she says, attributing the issue to reduced yields and vintage conditions.
Her tips for interesting Champagne-like discoveries from the US include Westport Rivers from Massachusetts, Argyle from Oregon, Thibaut-Janisson from Virginia and Schramsberg from California. Jansz from Australia and Raventós in Spain are other ‘delicious and great-value’ options.
Sustainability across the board
Matt Crafton, head winemaker at California’s historic Chateau Montelena, notes that a ‘proactive sense of responsibility on the agriculture side’ has taken form in both producers and consumers alike. ‘Now more than ever, we are starting to see that wine drinkers are choosing to support brands that share the same values – from what they wear to what they put in their bodies,’ he says. He believes 2022 will be the year of this ‘collective shift’.
‘Buying wine is becoming more personal,’ Crafton adds, predicting a rise in interest in brands that are environmentally conscious and invest in the wellbeing of their employees. Conlin of Wine Access agrees. ‘When it comes to social issues and sustainability, consumers want to spend in a way that’s consistent with their values. That’s why I think we’ll continue to see more and more questions about the people behind the wines and tremendous interest in supporting female- and BIPOC-owned wineries,’ she says.
Still wines from Champagne
Not all that hails from Champagne need sparkle. Christina Rasmussen, co-founder of England-based online platform Littlewine Co, predicts a rise in still wines from France’s most famously bubbly region. ‘Due to climate change, northerly segments of France are now regularly viable for still wine production, and in Champagne this is particularly evident,’ she says. Rasmussen recommends Le Blanc du Tremble by Dominique Moreau of Marie Courtin, as a stellar example to try.
Hold the glass
In the realm of sustainability, Jeff Harding of New York restaurant Waverly Inn predicts that excessively heavy glass bottles will be a thing of the past. ‘So many vanity bottles are being used to signify high quality, but it’s a trick that lesser wines have adopted so it’s really not a sign of quality anymore,’ he reveals. He says lighter bottles are a ‘no brainer’ for estates looking to make less of an environmental impact. ‘It takes less fuel to ship lighter bottles, which really adds up when you consider freight charge for high-volume wines.’
Concern for harvest workers
Additionally, Harding feels that a rise in concern for vineyard workers will also be prevalent – and necessary – in 2022. ‘In an interview, Max de Zarobe of Avignonesi in Tuscany mentioned that we pay so much attention to treating the flora and fauna of the ecosystem, and we can’t ignore the people who pick these grapes,’ says Harding. ‘More focus needs to be paid to the wellbeing of harvest workers. As wine buyers, we should let the wineries know that we are paying attention,’ he affirms.
Anita Musi, fine wine specialist at Connecticut-based importer Evaton, feels Portugal is at its ‘peak popularity’ right now. ‘It’s a fantastic culinary destination to explore and that includes its wines,’ she says, believing that consumers will continue to discover the country’s wealth of great bottles in 2022. ‘They are food friendly, versatile and affordable compared to other regions.’ She also highlighted the versatility of Port in cocktails and predicts this will be a trend.
For the love of Champagne
‘My insight on the 2022 wines trends starts and ends with Champagne,’ says Jen Saxby, of California-based importer Benchmark Wine Group. Saxby notes that despite shortage issues and shipment delays, people have still been been selling, ordering and drinking Champagne. She also predicts that other ‘process-driven wines’ such as Sherry and Madeira will see a rise in popularity.