As it did to virtually every aspect of life, Covid-19 upended the wine world. But not in some of the ways you might think. Bullet points:
• Largely demolished in-person wine tasting at wineries, once a key source of revenue.
• Severely hurt restaurants and wine bars. Sommeliers lost their jobs. Wine inventories contracted. Businesses went out of business.
• Created worker and supply chain challenges for wineries. With safe, effective vaccines and the loosening of health-related mandates, those problems are declining. But the wine world of the past now is forever past. It was changing before Covid-19. The pandemic pushed it further along.
Gino Colangelo is the president and founder of Colangelo & Partners, a leading fine wine and spirits public relations agency with clients around the world. Recently, we discussed the future. Findings:
• Direct-to-consumer is here to stay and will grow. Wineries must engage in this selling platform.
• Restaurant wine and food to-go are here to stay and will grow. Restaurants must serve this market.
• Premiumization of wine is here to stay and will grow. While wine sales volume has been steady or even experienced a slight decline in recent years, sales of wine costing $15 or more increased. Winemakers sold fewer bottles, made more profit. Superior quality sells.
• Sustainability, eco-friendly grape growing, and fair treatment of both the land and the people who work on the land are important to an increasing number of wine buyers, especially younger buyers. The winery’s back story joins price and taste as a driver of sales.
• The wine industry must solve its Millennials problem. Millennials—a 72-79-million-person cohort now aged 25-40 years old—are drawn to beer, spirits, and spiked seltzers more than wine. Baby Boomers drink twice as much wine as Millennials. Boomer numbers are in decline. The wine industry must replace Boomers by engaging Millennials.
• Coen Malbec Classic 2019: Simple, smooth easy drinker. Will satisfy your palate rather than challenge it. $16-25 Link to my review
• Banshee Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2019: Presents the elegant, ethereal side of pinot noir at a superb price point. $19-25 Link to my review
• Aperture Cellars Sonoma County Red Blend 2019: Breathtakingly excellent Bordeaux-style blend. If you can find it, buy it. Supple, silky, excellent depth and length. $55-58 Link to my review
• Pio Cesare Barolo Pio DOCG 2017: Excellent Barolo from a signature maker. Rich dark fruits framed by firm tannins and oak. $75-85 Link to my review
Last round: Where does an electrical plug shop? At an outlet mall, of course. Wine time.