Out-of-the-Ordinary Wine Trends: Part 2

Restaurant Wine Trends

Posted: Mar. 28, 2018

In 2018, consumers are more adventurous than ever and seeking out unfamiliar wine varieties like the Spanish Mencía or Turkish Bogazkere. In today’s post, we reveal which parts of the world will be influencing wine lists in the United States, and the bottle all wineries should be adding to their inventories.

For more, check out Bold Wine Trends in 2018: Part 1.

Chilean Wines Become More About Quality than Quantity

Michael Hill Kennedy II, renowned sommelier and founder of Component Wine Company, is convinced that Chilean wines will win awards for “Most Popular” this year. Kennedy isn’t referring to the $9 Chilean wines already found in supermarkets, either.

With its diverse climates and rich soil, the wines produced in Chile rival some of the best from France and California, and for half the price. Kennedy says, “Most people are familiar with the big players in Cabernet from Chile, but there are incredible wines of balance and elegance that will be all over the in-the-know sommeliers’ wine lists this year. Look for Pinot Noir from Casablanca and Syrah from cool mountain sites.”

Majestic, a leading wine distributor in the United Kingdom, agrees with Kennedy that higher-quality wines from Chile will be the hottest new wine trend in 2018. But they also believe there is another reason for the higher-priced bottles from South America: the unusual climate patterns caused by El Nino.

In 2016, El Nino was the cause of abnormal weather patterns that affected South America and resulted in low yields. The phenomenon caused harvests to go haywire with an unusually cool and rainy season that delayed the maturity of the crops.

Fortunately, the results can be celebrated.

The atypical weather created grapes that resulted in fresher wines with less alcohol. Although both Chilean and Argentinean winemakers lost significant volumes due to heavy rains (up to 25%), South American winemakers are saying 2016 vintages are of excellent quality. The fortuitous events of El Nino might change how South American wines are perceived—more about quality than quantity.

Majestic reports that since wine volumes fell, the market swiftly responded with rising prices. South American wine producers can ride out the effects of El Nino by focusing on the quality of the grapes; however, the global market will notice a hole which cheaper wines from Chile used to fill.

New Spanish Wines

North of Chile and Argentina, in Spain, lesser-known wines like Mencía and Alguiera are going to get their chance in 2018. Kaitlyn Caruke, head sommelier of Walnut Street Cafe in Philadelphia, predicts that lesser-known Spanish wines will step out of the shadows.

She says, “Mencía is my grape of choice right now. I'm a big Gamay person, so tasting through a handful of Mencía-based wines in the past year has been a real treat. It has that same juicy, bright acidity one looks for when drinking Beaujolais. Laura Lorenzo is making one out of Galicia that tastes like five-berry pie. I poured Alguiera from Ribeira Sacra by the glass. The wines are great for food pairing, complimentary to many dishes.”

Caruke also sees Australian wines getting more popular, with some achieving a “cult status.”

Magnums Are on the Rise

Don’t be surprised to see magnum bottles at your next dinner party. Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen from “The World Wine Guys” say that “big bottles are on the rise, especially for entertaining at home or parties in restaurants.” DeSimone continues, “Look out for magnums in wine shops and on wine lists.”

Magnum bottles were once considered a “no-go” for restaurants, but with this recent trend, serving glasses of wine from the extra-large wine bottle will be deemed acceptableeven a cause for celebration.

If you operate a winery, magnum bottles can be a new sales strategy to consider. In 2017 alone, Majestic reports a 378% increase in sales of magnum bottles priced under £20 (roughly $28).

The wine distributor reveals that “rosés and house reds in 1.5-liter measures are proving particularly popular for weddings and parties, where a big celebration warrants big bottles!” Richard Weaver, the Buying Director for Majestic, believes the surge in sales is due to social desires. “It’s all about socializing around a bottle,” Weaver explains. “Magnums create brilliant centerpieces for dinner parties and events – particularly if you’re cutting back on your eating-out spend.”

The trend for magnum wine bottles is also pushed forward by supermarkets and big-box retailers. For example, Aldi offered a jeroboam of Prosecco in December 2017, selling 3 liters of bubbly for £39.99 (about $56).

Out-of-the-Ordinary Regions and Wine Varieties

Consumer tastes are evolving as more Americans crave “out-of-the-ordinary” wines. Unknown regions and varieties, particularly of indigenous red grapes, will be selected by more sommeliers and wine distributors. As the sommelier of a restaurant, bar, or winery, consider offering consumers a wider selection of international wines, especially on by-the-glass lists.

Jenssen from the Wine Guys predicts popularity of “obscure wines like Georgian Saperavi or Turkish Bogazkere” and that we can expect to “see an increase in wines from lesser-known but traditional wine regions such as Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Georgia. Look for Teran (red) and Malvasia Itarska (white) from Istria in Croatia, and Bikaver blends (red) and dry Furmint (white) from Hungary. We also see red blends continue on the upward trend, with an influx of value-driven wines from Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.”

According to Majestic, eastern European wines will be in higher demand because of dismal European harvests and Brexit-related supply lows. Sales in the UK were up 1265% for low-priced bottles of wine. In fact, Majestic predicts that your mid-week bottle of wine from the grocery store will hail from Hungary’s Central Valley, filling the void that South American wines leave behind as they surge ahead in quality.

From Georgia to Slovenia to Romania, eastern European wineries are some of the world’s oldest. Even so, their presence in the global market remained minuscule for a long time. In 2018, these regions might win over a new audience of wine drinkers; the adventurous types that are looking for a well-priced bottle of wine from somewhere different. If this is your demographic as well, appeal to their tastes and source new, international wines for your customers.

In 2018, one thing is evident: US wine drinkers are more open-minded than ever. The Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays are as familiar as apple pie, and consumers are ready for something new and different. Take a page from one of the experts and surprise guests with a few of 2018’s leading wine trends.

Stay ahead of the curve with a winery point-of-sale system.



Posted: Mar. 28, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois


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