Beverage Trends for 2016: Wine

It’s that time of year again. We dust off our crystal balls and look ahead to the new year and predict what fun awaits us after winter. Last week, we looked at cocktail and spirit trends to watch in 2016. This week, we venture into the wide world of wine. 2015 saw big growth for sparkling wines like Prosecco, and the rise of Rosé brought us the amazing term “brosé.”

What wine trends will break out in 2016?

Non-Traditional Wines and Regions will Gain Attention

Everyone is talking about millennials. The wine industry included. It’s been well documented that millennials are a market that will latch onto new trends and explore the unfamiliar. For some this curiosity and bucking of tradition is praiseworthy. For others, it shows a lack of sophistication. For wine suppliers, it means a certain level of unpredictability but also gives license for experimentation. The purchasing power of this try-curious group will open the door for new wines to find space on wine menus and shop’s shelves. Look to see continued growth in non-traditional varietals, regions, and styles. Orange wine is a style of production that has been around for thousands of years, but has gained recent popularity in trendy wine bars. New or unacclaimed production areas will continue to gain prominence with young wine drinkers. English sparkling wine will be a more familiar sight on menus as English producers out-sparkle Champagne producers in blind tastings. As England increases exports on wine, expect to see more British sparklers available for purchase in the U.S.

Spanish Wine Continues Growth

People are drinking more Spanish wine. The Iberian wine has skyrocketed in Britain.  Spain has been greeted with generous weather resulting in high yield harvests. Spain’s largest problem with its exports is marketing. The quality of the wine is undeniable. And the price is affordable. For their wine to take off, Spanish producer’s best chance to sell more of their product is word of mouth marketing. This will be aided by the growing fondness for Spanish-style tapas bars, as well as a greater focus on regional cuisine. Spanish wine will benefit from diner’s love of Spanish food. Spain has long been a wine producer, but’s it’s lagged far behind France and Italy when it comes to old world production. Look for Spanish wine to find its way onto more wine lists in 2016.

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Wine Technology will Influence Menus

The Coravin wine system has breathed new life into wine bottles. Quite literally. Restaurants and wine bars who use the Coravin system to preserve open bottles of wine can offer guests more wines by-the-glass because bottles can stay fresh weeks longer than achieved by methods like wine pumps. As more bars adopt the Coravin system, (or other wine tech like Enomatic) you will see a change in the number of wines offered by-the-glass and the types of wines offered. As we mentioned before, the wine drinker’s market is becoming more amenable to trying new wines, and wine-by-the-glass programs are the perfect way to sell to a market that isn’t brand loyal. You won’t be restricted to selling Napa Valley cabernets or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc by the glass. Look for grapes like Gamay and Tempranillo to grace more by-the-glass lists.

Regional Focused Wine Lists

It’s a booming economy for niche products. As new restaurants are opening with an eye on region-specific fare, wine lists will follow suit. This is good news for old world wine drinkers who look for producers that represent and honor terroir and place. Regional wine lists should refocus attention on a wine’s personality and the influence of terroir.

More Beverage Trends to come

This was the second article to highlight Uncorkd’s Beverage Trend Forecast for 2016. Look for our next segment on beer trends for 2016.



Kyle Thacker