Wine of the Times

Category: Drink

The curious drinker’s guide to what’s next in wine.

Lighter reds emerge
An enthusiasm for rosé has combined with the natural wine movement to set the stage for the emergence of lighter reds. No longer are wines judged on their intensity, but rather on their finesse and youthful pop. Pinot Noir has some new members in the posse. Look for Gamay, Trousseau, Grenache, Cab Franc and Nerello Mascalese to emerge in the coming year.

Don’t judge a wine by its bottle
Cans, boxes, kegs, tetra— the list goes on. Alternative packaging is en vogue this year, and I for one love this. To me it signals another step toward the demystification and democratization of wine. As long as the wine is great, I don’t care about the package. Not only are these trends great for the environment but they allow you to take wine to new places.

All sparkly everything
It is my belief that we need to celebrate life’s little moments more, and sparkling wine is the ultimate celebratory drink, hands down. It’s refreshing and delicious with fried chicken and sends an immediate signal to the brain that something good is about to happen. What’s left to ponder?

The rosé party won’t stop!
People just love rosé — the stylish color, the day drinking and the easy and refreshing feel. We’ve never seen anything else like it. It’s the kind of wine that’s a simple pleasure, but also has the power to elevate any occasion. 

Au Naturel
“Natural” has to be the catchphrase of the year. Wine aficionados just can’t seem to get enough — and I understand why. These wines tend to be light, fruity, punchy, full of life and typically a pleasure to drink. The one downside is that “natural” wines are by nature all over the map in terms quality and style, so do your research. 

Drink more Merlot
Come on people, what grape is responsible for some of the finest expressions of age-worthy and complex Bordeaux? What grape will win a blind tasting 80% of the time when blind tasted against its more popular cousins? Merlot! Not only is Merlot delicious, it has just been so uncool for so long that it's time to be cool again.

Orange is the new pink 
Orange-tinted wines are the product of producing a white wine with a red winemaking technique. The contact with the skins gives the wine a savory element, much like the dry finish of a red. They’re currently made in small quantities and tend to be more experimental, but the rosé fever will likely lead to new, citrusy hues and a variety of styles. 

Cooler coolers
Wine coolers, ciders, flavored wines and spritzers are part of a new wave of wine hybrids. These projects start as wine but are sparkled, flavored and tweaked to create something entirely their own. In the past they were frowned upon, but a few creative winemakers are in the process of turning that upside down.

Wine is not just from grapes
It’s also from apple, pear and quince. Are they beers or are they wines? It’s tough to say, but I’m betting on the fact that we will see more experimental wines based on fruit other than grapes in the coming year.

Alternative is in
Since the beginning of time, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines have been the base of the California wine identity. Napa and Sonoma were the only areas known for high-quality vineyards. Today, we have a new breed of creative explorers who are changing the face of California winemakers. They’re searching the back lots of regions like Lodi and Calaveras County to find pockets of alternative grapes. Albariño, Blaufränkisch, Picpoul, Mourvedre, Cab Pfeffer and Dolcetto grapes are the foundation for an exciting new expression that will continue to define California wine.

Illustrations by Lennard Kok