How is the wine world shaping up in 2019? Here are some trends to watch, and we've not mentioned Brexit once...
Wine trends 2019
Tastes are broadening
This depends on who you ask. Majestic confirmed this week that big, bold Chardonnay still has a market, and there is no apparent slowdown for Prosecco and rosé – in fact quite the opposite if the two are combined as planned to create a mind-altering, monumental megatrend. But the choice of wines on offer to many consumers in the UK and US has arguably never been more diverse.
Majestic in the UK has repeatedly touted growth of wines from lesser-known areas of Eastern Europe. Major wine supplier Bibendum recently tipped indigenous Italian grapes for strong growth in 2019. Several commentators have also predicted a resurgence in demand for Greek wines.
Waitrose wine buyer Becky Hull MW said recently that the retailer expects Crémant sparkling wines to continue growing as alternatives to Champagne. While for New World sparkling Tasmania is one to watch.
Wines from cooler-climate vineyards in the UK and Canada have performed well in the Decanter World Wine Awards in recent years and will be areas to watch. Look out for the first UK-made still wines from the lauded 2018 vintage.
Vegan wines and disclosure
Vegan wines are now a thing, if only because more retailers have understood that they are well placed to capitalise on rising consumer demand for all things plant-based.
Waitrose Cellar, The Wine Society, Corney & Barrow and Majestic all have ‘vegan wine’ sections on their websites, for example.
And Bibendum said that more premium wine bars and restaurants are seeking vegan-friendly wines for their lists. This trend will expand in 2019 and you can expect to see more vegan symbols.
Whether this will be followed by more specific disclosure of processes and additives for certain wines remains to be seen. Andrew Jefford once wrote of full disclosure, ‘One day it will come, and like smoking bans and hybrid vehicles, we’ll wonder what took us so long.’
It may not come in 2019, but interest in what makes a wine vegan may add to the debate in a world where the concepts of ‘natural’, organic and biodynamic wines are increasingly topics for discussion.
By November, you’ll be sipping test-tube Merlot recommended by a robot sommelier named Dan, who lives in your smart watch and can analyse your DNA for wine preferences.
Well, perhaps not. But, at the very least we can expect more technological advances in the wine world in 2019, from gadgets designed to help you store and serve wine to apps offering wine-pairing advice. Google, Amazon et al might even teach their respective home assistants how to pronounce grape varieties properly.
We’ve also seen the rise of on-demand delivery in major cities, via apps such as Uber and Deliveroo, and this will likely expand.
If you’ll allow us a little bias, we’ll add a plug here for our wine-learning app, Know Your Wine.
Visiting wineries: experiences and tourism
Investment in wine tourism facilities around the world has been a hallmark of recent years. Just witness the €80 million Cité du Vin towering next to Bordeaux city centre or the Rubik’s Cube-inspired d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, South Australia.
In Europe alone, food and wine tourism was the main motive for 600,000 trips annually, said the UN’s World Tourism Organisation in 2017, adding it was the secondary motivation for around 20 million trips.
While economic uncertainty might have some effect, it is hard to see this general trend being knocked off course in 2019; barring global catastrophe. Expect to see more winery restaurant openings, as well as growth in ‘experiences’ offered to tourists – from vineyard yoga to wine-and-food pairing sessions on location.