The wine world agrees 2017 was a horrible year. Late frosts, hail, drought, monster fires in Napa, Italy, and Chile.
What should we look for in 2018, which surely, surely must be an improvement?
• Rosé’s rise continues. The demand for slightly sweet or sweeter versions of rosé has been around a while—white zinfandel is a rosé and blush wines are rosés. Now there is welcomed demand for dry rosé, both still and sparkling. Dry rosé works seriously well as an aperitif or pairing with entrées. U.S. rosé sales were up almost 60 percent in 2017. If you scorned rosé swill in the past for good reason, it is time to move into the 21st century and give rosé dry a try.
• Bubble boom continues. Sparkling wine—so good with food, so festive, so energizing—keeps pace with rosé’s rise. Shoot, some of the hottest sparklings are rosés. Twofer. The monster today is Prosecco, the delicious, well-priced bubbly from northeastern Italy. Who doesn’t include Prosecco in a meal or event today? Also, don’t discount cava, the exciting and affordable sparkling wine from Spain. Which segues to our third 2018 trend.
• Spain is on a roll and it will continue. Monster values and Spain dodged the climate and fire bullets much of the rest of Europe endured, so their supply will be available. France, Italy, and Spain trade places for the most wine produced year after year. Spain may be tops in 2017—we won’t know for months—but forget quantity, Spain delivers well-priced quality. Spain: generous on the palate, gentle on the wallet. No brainer.
• Online. With increasing sophistication of wine consumers, supermarket staples no longer satisfy. An onslaught of oenophiles seek rare experiences. This means online purchases direct from wineries and online wine stores where there are more and better choices. Welcomed, rational reform of arcane, antiquated interstate shipping laws continues, but vino’s freedom fight is far from over. Forty-two states allow interstate shipments from wineries; only 14 allow shipments from wine stores, maliciously reducing your freedom to access quality imported wine, although major players like wine.com have engineered ways to accommodate the myriad and Baroquely inane state regulations. Celebrate if you live in a sensible state. Accost your politicians if you do not.
Last round: Wine doesn’t cure insomnia, but it keeps you happy until you fall asleep.