As we plunge into the new year, some guesses—somewhat informed—on wine trends in 2019.
• Rosé’s rise will continue, planting seeds for struggles. Rosé wine can be superb. Enjoy it all by itself in a plastic cup by the pool in summer. Versatile with food at a meal indoors in the winter. It has been a huge wine trend for several years.
As happened with merlot and pinot noir, however, more and more wine companies have jumped on the rosé bandwagon. Except wine trends are more like roller coasters. Supply already overtakes demand. Too much of that supply is not exquisite stuff from Provence or quality New World makers. Beware cheap rosé in 2019.
• So-called “natural wine” will be seen as more marketing trick rather than signal for quality. There is no clear definition of what “natural wine” is, except it seems like a good thing. Too often the “natural wine” story beats what is in the bottle. Too often, a flawed wine has “natural wine” slapped on the label so the drinker may forgive flaws, or decide this is what wine should taste like. Beware “natural wine” in 2019.
• Spain and Portugal will continue to produce outstanding wines at outstanding prices. In the past, Iberian wines did not compete well in quality, but that is no más. Spain’s classic grapes—tempranillo and garnache—are noble and wonderful. Albariño (Spain) and alvarinho (Portugal) are the same grape—grown across the Minho River from each other—that makes superb white wines that are great substitutes for chardonnay and almost almost always at better price-for-value. Look for Iberian wines in 2019.
• Millennials will continue to rock the wine world. They are more adventurous in the wines they are willing to try. They are much more savvy about buying online, especially direct from wineries, giving them access to harder-to-get wines and delighting wineries. They value bargains, but they also are open to spending $12-20 for everyday wine. They see wine as food and a normal complement to a meal rather than a special occasion splurge. They were introduced to this concept by Boomers—their parents—and are taking it to the next level. If you are a Boomer, pat yourself on the back. If you are a Millennial, invite the old folks over for some vino in 2019.
Last round: Why is it impossible to buy a wine gift for a futurist? Because they never like the present.