New Year In Wine: 10 Predictions for 2010

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newyear2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

With 2009 behind us, let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief and turn our sights - not to mention our vinous radar - on the New Year.  If you're like us, a fresh start means you're looking forward to good things like pay raises, thinner waistlines and general prosperity like we haven't seen in some time.  And while that's all good and well, we'd like to remind you that there's more - much more, in turns out - in store for you in the world of wine in the New Year.  

Read on for our predictions on what'll be hot - as well as what'll be...not...in 2010.
Green Gets Bigger (And More Unwieldy)
There's no question green was big in wine in '09, just ask our very own Heidi Paul, who was a panelist at Sonoma's Second Annual Green Wine Summit  in December.  Still, expect confusion to reign in the coming year over what, exactly, makes a wine green (Organic grapes?  Sustainable farming?  Eco-friendly packaging?) - and heed the warnings of experts, who wisely caution us to beware wines that have been "greenwashed."  Mon dieu!

jazz-wine-label2.jpgLabels Get Cooler
The Great Recession - and its accompanying precipitous slide in consumer willingness to pay - has meant wineries are working harder than ever before to sell the same number or even fewer bottles.  And - happily for those of us who covet cool design - working harder means putting more value into packaging as well as what's inside the bottle.  We expect this trend to continue in '10, and bring the arrival of still more creative, eye-catching and even downright weird labels.  After all, it's time for producers to BRING it - both inside the bottle and out.

Wine Goes Gutsy
In line with the working harder trend, more wineries will innovate with new products designed to stand out from their peers.  Ergo, the new Sparkling Shiraz just out from very cool So Cal winery Municipal Winemakers (featured in our Recession Wines piece last year!) Closed with a soda pop-esque cap closure (in baby blue!), the wine is called simply "FIZZ" and features a mega eye-catching label.  Look for more surprisingly cool bottles like this in the New Year, and - do us a favor! - drop us a line and let us know what they are and how you like 'em.

Offal Goes Out - Along With Whole Animal (Whew!)
One trend we are so NOT loathe to see go is whole animal, along with its often offensive cousin, offal.  In 2009 these epicurean "experiences" reached near cultish popularity, epitomized by Primal Napa Valley, a hedonistic carne-driven hoe down held in November at Hayne Vineyard.  And while we fully support programs that advocate consuming as much of an animal as possible (including iron-rich offal), we're ready to see the exhibitionism and sensationalism behind it all abate.  

twitterwine.jpgCustom Crush Kills It
Though custom crush and private label wines have been trend-worthy for some time, we predict the DIY spirit inspired by the recession - coupled with newfound feelings of optimism (read: spending) in the New Year - will dovetail to bring about the biggest year ever for private label wine.  Who'll be the harbinger of this new "it" wine trend?  Crushpad, of course.  After all, they already count Twitter as a client, and where there's Tweeting, there are sure to be followers.  

Podcasts Get a Real Part
Though online video has been heralded as the next big thing for years now, we haven't seen many notable, consistent video podcasts covering wine (Gary Vee's being the exception) - but that looks poised to change.  Organic Wine Review is new on the scene with some interesting things to say about green wine (we particularly like an irreverently titled recent segment, "Jet fuel splashed on rocks"), and yours truly has even gotten into the game with a new series for the Wine Market Council.  Check it out, and be sure to watch for the cat!

Social Media Becomes Mainstream

In '09 everyone heralded social media as the next big thing, though most of us struggled to find appropriate applications for it.  Now, those applications are being realized, epitomized by ski resorts like Vail catering to day-of news seekers with social media updates (as in "Fresh powder!  20% off today only!").  Expect to see more wineries capitalizing on social media's immediateness in the New Year - it's a no-brainer for tasting room specials and incentives, after all - and this phenomenon moving from trend to tactic that's here to stay.

Second Labels Soar
Inevitably, one of the best things to come out of a recession is a correction in prices.  As in, an adjustment downwards of over-hyped and -priced goods - and wine is no exception.  Accordingly, it's also a time when second labels soar, as consumers strive to buy the brands they love at recession-adjusted prices.  Watch for the vinous equivalent of designer ready-to-wear labels in the coming year - we predict they'll be big in 2010, not to mention opportunities to score some of your fav labels for a lot less.    

Asia Ascends
There's no getting around it: Asia is officially a major player in wine, and will continue to grow its portion of global consumption in the coming year.  Of particular note is the addition of Vinexpo Asia-Pacific to the traditionally Bordeaux-centric event's roster, and Diageo's exiting the Bordeaux sales business on the heels of disastrous US sales. Could Asia be the new US where fine wine sales are concerned?  Stay tuned.

Wine Media Gets Weirder (And We Like It)
Upstart fine bev rag Mutineer Magazine burst onto the scene in 2008 with its snarky-fabulous tagline, "Not your parents' beverage magazine."  Its scribes have followed Mutineer's launch with provocative posts and print pieces celebrating wine - as well as beer, spirits, coffee and even water - in a refreshingly approachable, funny and decidedly offbeat light that's tailor-made for the new decade.  We're looking forward to what these rebels bring to the table in 2010 - and beyond.

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1 Comments

Great list and awesome seeing Mutineer Magazine in it! They are definitely a breath of fresh air.

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