Wine trends

Wine experts believe 2015 will be a breakout year for fine wines (bottles priced $20 and above), with sales predicted to increase by 14-18 percent.

The experts expect demand for lower-priced wines (below $8) to decrease for a second straight year. Demand in the middle price range will be level.

The predictions come from Silicon Valley Bank’s highly respected annual wine report.

The forecasts reflect belief in continued economic recovery, lower oil prices (increased discretionary income), and strength of U.S. dollar (lower prices on imported wine).

The report also offers interesting insights into who buys wine. Boomers (age 49-66) continue to dominate wine sales at every price point and account for nearly 45 percent of fine wine sales.

Boomer hegemony, however, drifts toward denouement. The most active fine wine buyers are in the 35-55 year age group, which means Gen Xers (age 37-48) have begun to assert themselves. Right now, they are 30 percent of the fine wine market.

Millennials (age 21-36) and Matures (age 67-plus) are about equal, each with less than 15 percent of the fine wine market.

Takeaways: the industry expects fine wine demand to increase, so makers will expand selection. The low-end wine segment is in decline, and that market now trends to imports, not traditional U.S. lower-end makers, creating another reason for domestic makers to focus on quality.

Get ready to discover more domestic fine wine and to find bargains in imported wines at all price points. It is a great time to be a wine lover. Hallelujah.

Tasting notes:

  • Frei Brothers Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012: Bright red fruit, black cherry, cola, pomegranate, plum; medium body, good acidity; clean, concentrated, silky delight. $27
  • Varozza Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009: Bold fruit—raspberry, black cherry; toasty vanilla, smoke; reserved tannin; sings on the palate. Winemaker Kristy Melton is Angelo State grad. $57
  • Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo Vigna Big ‘d Big 1998: Polished smoothness with 17 years of bottle age; mature fruit, full body, refined tannin, oak; nebbiolo power and structure. $95

Last round: When life gives you lemons, sell lemons and buy wine.