Talking about trends is never easy. I am not Zoltan, so I can not tell you with my crystal ball or reading in the sea of wine which wines you will like in 2018. But yes, my experience in this sector, my training and my conversations with consumers give me the opportunity to explain certain tendencies. Consumers and their consumption habits, wines that are going to be drunk, communication, digitalization and even the impact of climate change have significantly changed the landscape of the wine world.
Consumers are heteroclite. We find fans of the great classics, those who swear only by the notes of most famous guides or those who are more curious – as is the case of millennials – who are not loyal to a single brand but who constantly experiment.
Not only is it a matter of curiosity, but also a way to approach wine. It does not matter if it is a Crianza, a Gran Reserva, “elaborated since 1890” or Reserva de la Familia, that has 95/100 or a gold medal. What matters in the first place is the label and its design. The colours, what represents the drawing or the photo and especially the emotion or the history behind each label and each wine.
In 2018, if one wine is more expensive than another, it does not mean that it is better. The public is less knowledgeable but does not have complexes and it does not matter to them not to know about wine to enjoy it and to detect the wine they like. That’s what it’s about, find the wine that excites you. Therefore, the disappearance of the great classics is not for now. The clearest trends are the search for the best value for money, where traditional and millennials coexist in total harmony.
The Wine Trends
Light red wines
At last! The time of the wines is very dark, concentrated, fleshy, structured, powerful and often drying because of a massive use, not to say abusive, of the ageing in new and very toasted wood. Wines that became fashionable in the 90s with the criterion of the great critic Robert Parker. I do not mean that they are bad wines, but that they are always consumed too young: they are wines that would have to wait to be consumed for at least 10 years to be able to appreciate themselves well. That’s as long as they are well made from the beginning because often the wood also serves to cover and disguise defects or poor quality. But this is another subject …
It was about time! The time comes for friendly, fresh and spontaneous red wines, with less alcohol, easier to understand and to enjoy. In the end, that’s what it’s about, enjoy with a glass of wine. It is more, to enjoy a glass of red wine until in the heat of summer. Wines to share, to accompany the aperitif, for the after work. Live the fruit and live the freshness without losing the quality. This challenge has been achieved by wine growers who have known and wanted to work with native grapes that have almost disappeared or that have worked in very different ways the best-known ones.
Appear red wines from Galicia of unknown varieties such as red Caiño, Brancellao, Bastardo, Loureiro, Mencía by the best known, Trepat and others. But, Miss Uva 2018, it is, without doubt, the Garnacha. For a long time, winegrowers have turned their backs on it because it is a difficult grape to work with, low yield and fragile, but it has been recovered by small producers willing to give it the opportunity it deserves in areas such as Madrid, Gredos or Catalonia. Great wines have come from there at affordable prices.
Organic, biodynamic and natural wines, from zero kilometres, terroir and made from native grapes
The trend is healthy, healthy and sustainable. The consumer is increasingly concerned about the environment, health and well-being. Organic wines are an important part of the market, but not only. Every time there is more interest for the terroir wines, of “terroir”: the town, the farm or the plot are current concepts and very appreciated that also appear on the labels. The consumer pays more attention to the most unknown and autochthonous varieties, which are valued more and more by small processors every day. It would be very interesting if the consumer was also worried about the packaging. Is it really necessary that the bottles are so thick and heavy?
White and rose wines
The consumption of white wines is increasing. And, unlike the trend in red wine – which seeks the light style – with white wines the opposite happens. White wines with more character, volume and personality are sought. Wines with an ageing “on lees”, which can have a more golden and more intense colour. Does not matter. The whites of Rueda and Galicia are no longer the only ones. The Catalan white wines (white Garnacha) and the Rioja whites, totally devalued by the national market for decades, enter through the front door. Well, it’s to be happy that fashions change because both Catalonia and Rioja produce extraordinary white wines.
The pink ones are still fashionable. Less and less are associated with temporary summer consumption and more and more are of better quality. The preference goes to the pink wines of Provencal style, that is to say: very pale pink and presented in special or different bottles. Packaging matters as much as colour. Why Provencal style? Because the great rosé wines of Provence are the best sellers and sought after in the world.
Wine without alcohol
A tendency to rise, although it does not grow as fast as others. However, wines without alcohol have more and more presence in the market, especially effervescent wines and those presented with a very careful and surprising packaging. There is also a clear commitment to quality because what matters is a product without more qualitative alcohol. Even so, I do not know if we can really call them wines!
The wines suitable for vegans called vegan wines
The other trend that many people will say that it is not a fad, but a lifestyle that is generalized: wines suitable for vegans or vegans. Veganism, the answer to our stressful and frenetic modern life. According to a study published by The Green Revolution, prepared by the Lantern consultancy, 1.3% of the Spanish population follows a vegetarian diet and 0.2% has opted for veganism. In other words, in Spain, there are around 3.6 million people (7.8% of the total) who base their diet exclusively, or with few exceptions, on products of vegetable origin. Can we afford to leave this market without wine?
The wines suitable for vegans are made without using products of animal origin. Normally, the problem is that the clarification of traditional wines is carried out with products such as egg albumin, casein (a protein derived from milk), gelatin (obtained from animal cartilages) or the ichthyosaur. of fish (obtained from the swim bladder of some fish). But, to avoid these products, the most used product is bentonite, a chemical product … Just what they avoid using the wineries that make natural wines. Is not it the fish that bites its tail?
Totally contrary to all previous trends, the colour wine, that is the main protagonist of 2018. The first most famous colour wines have been Passion Blue and Gik Live, two blue wines that were and are a national and international success. Now they are appearing more colours (orange, green, violet, etc.) and every day more wineries are aimed at the production of blue or coloured wines. There are also sparkling wines of colour that devastate the young. With bright colours, with iridescence, with flaming effects and more.
For many they are not wines – for me, they are not -, but if thanks to these wines the consumers end up being interested in wines … So, welcome. And, as with generations, consumers and their tastes have changed and the wines they are looking for too.
The consumption trend
Wines by the glass
We have never seen so many bars that serve wines by the glass as now. This trend is on the rise in 2018. Above all, we find bars with wine lists that offer a good and careful selection to enjoy and try different styles, which will delight from the knowledgeable lover to the neophyte. And they also make an important rotation, monthly or weekly, in their wine lists to surprise their clients and especially so that they do not get bored. The great evil of the millennial generation, which gets bored very quickly.
A fashion that comes with strength. Play to be the winemaker making your own wine, or rather, mixing varieties of grapes to get the perfect wine! Many restaurants and bars offer a selection of different wines specially designed to make the blend or the blend and the client imagine his own wine. More than one, less of the other, a little of this, etcetera, etcetera. It’s a bit like playing magician apprentice but it’s very trendy!
Wine tourism or tourism in the vineyard is confirmed as fashion. This is not what I say, says the General Director of the portal Turismodevino *. Interest in visiting the wineries and an emotional experience with the wines we like were aroused. We like the story behind each wine, the memory that each drink transmits to us, just like the scents that remind us of our grandmother’s kitchen or the flavours of our childhood. Feeling closer to nature seeing how the vineyard is grown …
The year 2018 or the boom in the use of social networks … We consume “information” about wines: before buying or ordering a wine to be sure not to make mistakes, when we have the bottle in front to take a photo and share it, after drinking it for share our opinion … Clearly, the use of social networks is very important and fascinating. We seek the personal opinions of those who have tasted the wine before even the wine’s own information. It matters more and more the opinion of others.
It is the reality in a world where the school wants and says to develop more the critical spirit to young people. It is clear: know how to synthesize and take distance to have an opinion of our own is something that we will have to teach future generations.
Evolution of wineries and processors
Faced with the evolution of consumer tastes, wineries have to adapt. Many of the famous ones have already done it. Great winemakers are precursors to changes and trends. This is the case of Artadi, who left the D.O. Rioja to produce wines from villages and plots. But it is not the only one, many more do it. In addition, a generation of young processors is doing an exceptional job with native grapes and new techniques or recovering the ancestral ones. Working in an ecological or natural way their vineyards and the wines with ageing in amphoras or “used” barrels, that is to say where several wines have already evolved, and very little toast. They do not look for quantity but for quality and pleasure.
A large number of wineries are using organic products of proximity to developing their wines without adding any type of additive, without manipulating them. Others go further and have specialized in making wines suitable for vegans, or, as I said before, in coloured wines. They are also being renovated with wine tourism. They make their products known in a different way beyond the simple visit-tasting, but providing a true experience in the vineyard, explaining a story, exciting the consumer with leisure and enjoy.
The wineries are linked to sporting events, musical events (such as Turmalina, the first wine festival held in the Comunidad Foral de Navarra) and fashion, where good wines, friends and/or personalities come together. They also enter the digital world. They no longer fear it so much …
But in addition to the product, the quality, the ingredients, the colour or where we drink it, we care how they tell us about wine. We leave behind the pompous speeches of experts such as ageing in Allier barrels, aromas of white pepper, malolactic fermentations, batonnage, residual sugar or volatile acidity and other rude words! The simple, affordable and accessible language of anyone arrives. A good sommelier is the one who knows how to explain the wine without reciting the technical specifications of the winery, which uses words and stories that will bring the wine closer to the customer.
Another great trend in the world of wine 2018 is the increase in the edition of wine comics. In Spain, there are still few, but in France, it is a phenomenon of great magnitude. It is a strong bet to spread the culture of the wine world through comics and entertainment. One of the most famous is Los Ignorantes, also Vinómics, or the manga Las Gotas de Dios. If there are still few titles in Spain, in France you can find many styles.
The digital revolution in the world of wine
The wine industry has been slow enough to adapt to the digital world, but we can say that its evolution is impressive. It could not be otherwise! Nowadays everyone is looking for information or online shopping in one click. We know the wine stores that have their website, wine stores exclusively online sales, monthly subscription and send a batch adapted to your tastes but surprising, private exclusive sales, but where is the offer in 2018?
The figure of the online Marketplace to buy wine is becoming a powerful force. The leader in Spain with the most extensive wine catalogue in Europe is Uvinum with more than 100,000 listings of wines, distillates and beers for sale.
Startups innovate more than ever. In 2018, the growth of smartphone use is confirmed and will increase. They are improving the apps that already exist and others are created, all very interesting depending on what we are looking for: price comparators; albums for collectors; to qualify a wine and buy it; another that aspires to become the wine assistant for poorly understood people; to register the wines you are tasting and record their main characteristics and include the personal tasting notes; to provide information on the quality of the harvests of the main producers taking into account the year and the appellation of origin of the wine of the main wine-producing countries; to match the pairing of their wines and food (there are exclusive ones for pairings with cheeses); to indicate the ideal consumption date of a specific wine bottle; to indicate the ideal time of consumption of natural or biodynamic wines depending on the moon and the appropriate days to open the wines (if it is a flower day, a day leaf … ok, this is very freaky, but it is fantastic); to detect new features according to your tastes; etc…
Applications about wines exist for all tastes, the number goes up and above all, they are fine-tuned. It ended up having only one web page, the app format for a smartphone is essential if you want to reach the new generation of consumers. Not only do they have to be interesting, easy to use and adapted to any device. The payment system has to be agile and secure, shipping faster, cheaper and more efficient. And, above all, that everything is “shareable” on any social network such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and all that exist …
So far the trends for 2018 in Spain. But, the fashions here are not those of other countries.
Outside of our borders, the consumption of wine in Bag in Box is imposed. Do you think it’s shabby? It will arrive here too … But, above all, it is the consumption of the magnum format that stands out the most. A festive and convivial volume (convivial is a French expression to speak of a happy atmosphere during a shared meal).
The use of screw caps for quick-consumption bottles. In Spain, it has not been imposed yet but it is not long. On the other hand, in France, it is the glass stopper that is the trend.
Outside of Spain, another trend is the consumption of sparkling wines -with better reception than they have here-, especially Prosecco and Cava, which tend to be cheaper than champagnes.
Finally, a trend that will or will come, but of course the worst, is the increase in the price of wine. Spain, Italy and France – which together produce more than half of the world’s wine – have experienced their worst harvests in decades after the grapes were damaged by extreme weather (severe drought, repeated frosts). This is also the case in South Africa – because of the drought – or in California – which has been devastated by fires – and thus for each wine-producing country.
Large producing countries such as Australia or Chile are exploring their colder zones to plant vineyards. We hope that the countries that were not producers until now see an opportunity here. England has started producing sparkling wines. Even large wineries like Taittinger are planting vineyards there. Let’s see what my wine glass says …
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