The pandemic shook the wine world—as it did everything in the world. More to the point, it accelerated trends forever changing the wine landscape. Examples:
• Bottles and corks are for wine. Cans are for beer. Cartons are for milk.
Not anymore. Wine in cans is a booming trend, especially aimed at younger drinkers who want something convenient, often less quantity than a 750 ml bottle, something to toss in a napsack or slurp at pool or beach.
Ah, but at least wine doesn’t come in milk cartons. Well, yes it does for the same reasons it now comes in cans. In both instances, lighter weight and recyclable materials mean lower cost and more environmental responsibility.
And boxed wine—actually a plastic bag inside a box—earned a niche in the wine firmament long ago. Except today you can find quality in a box. You can still buy the headache-engendering swill you over-indulged in at your cousin Vinnie’s bargain basement bash, but you also can get quality that will stay fresh for a month or more after opening.
• Wine contains alcohol, right? No alcohol means grape juice. But low and no-alcohol wine now proliferate across all categories. Even Paris—epicenter of vin hauteur—has an entire store dedicated to low and no-alcohol wine options. Yes, Chicken Little, the sky is falling. Note: low and no alcohol wines help you avoid tomorrow regrets, but they are not necessarily low-calorie or low-carb. Every delight in life has a tax.
• Nothing beats a good, local wine store. While true, finding one has become increasingly difficult. Supermarkets stock wine canyons with acceptable, if not unique or special, wines, and they are convenient when you are buying eggs and milk. But the real breakthrough has been the confidence wine buyers now have online. Often the online store and direct-to-consumer winery can deliver what your neighborhood wine shoppe used to deliver before the pandemic forced the avuncular proprietor to retire and begin the final assault on his wine cellar.
Nothing stays the same in wine, or the rest of life for that matter. The pandemic just gave it a shove.
• Cono Sur Bicicleta Reserva Unoaked Chardonnay 2021 is a simple but very solid pure presentation of chardonnay. No oak to get in the way. $12-14. Link to my review
• Les Sarrins Côtes de Provence Rosé 2021 is fresh, crisp, clean. Aromatic, light, fruity, fun. $20-30. Link to my review
Last round: I’m writing a theatrical piece about puns. It is a play on words. Wine time.