In the world of wine, trends serve not only as an indicator of what society values and right now but reveal the issues we discuss both on a casual and more formal basis when we get together. Though wine consumption maybe dropping in 2020, it is still plays a significant role in our social interactions. There is a rich history behind the fermented grape — a tapestry which spans millennia. In 2020, we are seeing wine trends parallel our thirst for knowledge and discovery and this will carry forward into 2021. Here's what else we see happening with wine in the year 2021.
Who and what’s behind the bottle, how was it produced, and what makes it different?
We think that more and more wine consumers will be open-minded, and knowledgeable about the wine they drink. More consumers will want to discern between different wine regions, learn the personality and experience history behind the glass they’re about to drink and even what wine to drink may suit the experience at hand. In other words, we feel our interest in wine is finally catching up with our interest in food.
When wine drinkers are knowledgeable and talk about your small farm-grown rare variety of eggplant that you found at the farmer’s market, we think you will be equally as proud to learn some stories about small producers and real people behind your wine you are serving. There is something satisfying knowing the story behind a product. Wine education is a trend, and we support that both with our “virtual tastings” and face to face tastings when this is possible. At the Oak Barrel we love to educate and tell a story.
With that thankfully comes a shedding — at least a layer, anyway — of wine’s elitist veneer. Pretentiousness in wine is fading.
Say goodbye to ostentatious wine buffs — people are beginning to approach wine in a more sensible way instead.
The interesting and important thing about wine that makes it exciting is that there’s a story behind it there’s a place, a person — that’s what talk we about at The Oak Barrel.
Lesser Known Wine Regions and grape varieties provide different experiences.
From smaller producers to lesser known wine regions, 2021 is the year we think more wine drinkers will seek out this diversity. And with more knowledge comes more power in our spending. Partly people seek out these regions that are uncommon because there’s a lot of value to be found in these regions. For example, we have so much great wine from Piedmont but not just from Barolo and Barbaresco. We look to the rare and revitalized varieties such as Cortese, Timorasso and Arneis.
Red wines from Douro Valley are spectacular, and Portugal is going to continue being a hot spot for discovering new growing areas and grape varieties. The lesser known regions of Italy are great — we think it’s really fun that you can see a Bianchetta Genovese coming to Australia and being available in selected small wine stores.
Australia is also in an exciting phase growing and making rare varieties and experimenting with different terroir and wine making methods. Alas we do not have any indigenous grape varieties of our own.
We and start to discover more wines from Georgia, Moldova and Croatia, and Hungary. Eastern European wines, including from Greece, are going to take more of the market as our wine education and palates accept these newcomers.
We think the tax structure on wine should be reviewed so that instead of a value-based tax, we should move to an alcohol percentage-based tax. This would help the small producer compete on equal terms with the big volume producers.
Natural Wine consumption is growing quickly.
Natural wine, or wine that is produced organically and has very little intervention in the fermentation process, is here to stay. These producers may not be officially certified, they simply follow the practises and do so because they live on their vineyards so they don’t want to spray chemicals around where they live. Others have strong principles about the use of synthetic chemicals or want to practice the Steiner Principles of biodynamic cultivation and production. As a baseline, fewer chemicals is a great thing, but let’s also talk about what it tastes like.
We would like to draw attention to the difference between organic production and “natural” wine production. Natural production infers a technique of minimal intervention, naturally occurring yeast for the fermentation, may or may not use alternative vessels such as Amphorae or large wooden vessels. The wine makers may also use minimal or no sulphur during the wine making or bottling process. Some are filtered, some are not, producing cloudy wines or bottles with sediment in the bottle.
However, the cons to natural wine essentially come with the assumption that it will taste good. This is not necessarily the case. The term has been used to camouflage faults in wine-making.
Let’s also consider that for a category that isn’t even defined, it’s hard to know what exactly we are drinking. What is it that people are selling and who gets to call theirs “natural wine?” Without a legal definition it’s hard to track the sales and the pickup in growth.
All that said the move to less intervention in the wine-making process is and will in our opinion, show continued strong growth.
A subcategory to this class is pétillant naturel, or pét-nat wines. It can be wine that is cloudy or any number of things in a wine that polarise sparkling wine drinkers. More about this category in another article about where our sparkling wine tastes are heading.
A slow move Away From Rosé
Might we be seeing the beginning of the end of days of “roséallday”.
Last summer the average wine store had a prodigious display of rosé Some stores had displays of probably 30 rosés all at the same price. At The Oak Barrel we think that’s just way too much. We predict a shrinkage of the category to more sustainable levels. There’s no way you can differentiate the flavour profiles of all of them. That being said, Moët Hennessy just bought Château d'Esclans, which produces Whispering Angel so that means they’re going try to make an expensive fashion statement it to a million cases-kind-of-production. There has to be some consolidation in the rose market.
Palate-wise, what comes next? What do we want to taste more of? We predict light red wine varieties that are super versatile will continue to grow. They’re wines you can chill. People who were typically grabbing rosé or contact orange wines are moving towards crunchy red wines — domestic or imported, it doesn’t matter. You have German Trollinger, Spanish Mencía, French Gamay and Chilean Pais varietals you’ll want to try. In the Australia the winemakers such as Chalmers and Ricca Terra who were making esoteric wines have had some practice, and now they’re finding footing in these styles.
We predict that rarer white varietals will start to gain footing this spring and summer. They will range from the crisp floral Mediterranean varieties to the more robust Southern Italian varieties. Coming into summer The Oak Barrel will feature a number of these wines both imported and locally produce. So be on the lookout.
Beyond the Bottle
Last but not least are the changes we’re going to continue seeing in how our wine is packaged. Canned wine, like Craft Beer is here and we’ll only see more of it.
It’s very useful if you’re having a pool party or somewhere with a refrigerator or cooler; it travels well, and it makes sense. Aluminium also weighs a lot less than glass and cans chill more quickly.
And yet more alternatives to the bottle and can abound, such as the 70’s favourite: Boxed wine. Boxes also carry more in volume per container than cans. They are biodegradable and already made from recycled material. You’ll see more of that this year
We have a lot to look forward to wine in 2021, whether it’s learning about the people and stories behind the vintage, exploring bottles within a yet-to-be-defined category, evolving our palates past the pink, or incorporating wine into our cocktails. There are more choices now than ever.