18
Jan
10

A return to the simple pleasures of wine on the horizon?

I would be so glad to see a return to the simple pleasures of wine compared to the last decade. I expect I’m not the only one – and think the Chronicle’s wine editor, Jon Bonné is spot on with these predictions.

Expect these wine trends for the new decade

There’s not much doubt about what has defined wine culture over the past 10 years. Pinot Noir’s debutante moment, the surge of sommeliers, the critter label. Riesling and pink Champagne and screwcaps. But the fact that you’re quite likely reading this on a computer screen is a giveaway. The Internet reigns.

What about the next 10 years? The Teens (Tens? Tweens?) will be an era without excuses. We’re in a bold time for wine in America. More wine is being consumed than ever before – nearly 3 gallons per U.S. adult in 2008, according to data from the Beverage Information Group.

There’s something else: a lot of newly minted wine drinkers who grew up with wine-drinking parents. Wine marketing expert John Gillespie of Wine Opinions sees a parallel with the latter round of Boomers, who propelled wine forward in the 1970s: “Of the 70 million millennials (people born in the late 20th century) in the United States, there are still something like 20 million who are not yet 21.”

Dizzyingly, we have choices from around the world – and that will continue even amid a global wine glut. But en route to the era of Chinese Merlot, here are five themes that I think will define the new decade.

1. Retailers resurgent. There was a time when your local wine merchant was a top source of buying advice. That time is back. In part, this is the rise of wine boutiques that curate rather than cast a wide net – whether it’s Ruby Wine or Biondivino in San Francisco, or even California Wine Merchants in New York – which makes for a shopping experience you can’t get at a big box. Yes, scores will still sell wine and, yes, so will Costco and Walmart.

But retailers have never been more knowledgeable or less snooty (makes a big difference); as in-store tastings and a culture of service become more important, wine shopping is becoming an experience to enjoy, not to rush through. That doesn’t mean online shopping is going anywhere, but its current limitations (witness Amazon.com’s abortive attempts at wine sales) underscore that buying wine isn’t like buying a flat-screen. We want to see and touch.

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