01-01-2019 ~ 5 Comments

Wine Predictions for 2019

In these illustrious times of silly-haired men holding sway over the misdirection of the world, predictions of any kind are slightly less useful than horse sweat. But, as little value as general predictions may have, in the highly subjective world of wine, they’re more likely to be worth even less, akin to a fly that gets stuck inside your car while driving. So, why even attempt wine predictions? I try not to think too hard as to the why but I suppose it’s just one of those exercises I like to do in order to lift my head up and have a gaze at what is hopefully a more glimmering horizon.

You can have a look at my 2018 predictions as well as my scoring of the 2018 predictions. Why do I score them? Because spouting nonsense out of your stupid mouth is one exercise with little potential repercussion these days. However, having to choke down a helping your nonsense is probably more beneficial than making the original predictions in the first place. One can easily become of the opinion that one actually knows something about wine, which anyone who does know something about wine, knows that they don’t.

Still with me? Lovely!

More interest in Indian market

For years everyone has been banging on about the future of the Chinese wine market and putting blind faith into it. The thinking is of course that if you manage to sell to just a fraction of China’s population, then you’ve got yourself a market of millions. This hasn’t panned out for a variety of reasons too many and varied to get into here. But in all of the hubbub about China, India has been largely forgotten and some people are just starting to realize this. With a population of one billion people, a vast and varied culinary tradition, and a people accustomed to the brisk tannins of hearty black tea, I can’t see how India won’t be a tremendous market for wine going forward. Yes, the taxes on imported alcohol are beyond onerous but this will change once authorities realize that growing the wine drinking class via imported wines will grow it for domestically-produced wines. 2019 will mark the start of this but it will take many years for it to grow.

Rise of Japanese wines

A couple of articles have popped up here and there profiling various aspects of Japanese wine, namely the “native” Koshu grape which seems to be what the nascent industry is being built upon. Even if factoring in the other grape, Muscat Bailey-A, it would be unfair to paint Japan as a “two-grape pony”. There are more wineries experimenting with Pinot Noir now as well as other grapes. There are two GIs: Yamanashi, Hokkaido, and there will probably be more in the future. Japanese cuisine is extremely high quality and more attention is being given to Sake than ever. Japan is going to be a hot subject in terms of articles for the next year or two as people look to what’s different and exciting in the world of wine.

Death of the Instagram (social media) wine influencer

This prediction could just be a large shake of wishful thinking but all the ingredients are there for everyone to stop giving a rat’s ass about social media as a conduit to driving sales, especially in wine. A long time back I outlined why social media doesn’t sell wine. The only people who have argued heavily in its favor are those in marketing (whose opinions change depend upon who is paying them) or then people selling social media services. It is the case that a mention on SM can move a product once, but it doesn’t provide momentum and it’s all so vapid (ex. Snapchat, Instagram Stories) that there’s no persistence to any campaign on it. Then there’s the issue that wine isn’t Coca Cola and you can’t simply produce as little or as much as you need. Taking all this into account as well as the social media networks flatlining due to privacy concerns, click lethargy, and how many “influencers” are being found out to be utter frauds, it’s headed for a mighty fall over this coming year, thankfully.

Spanish Chartreuse goes boom

Okay, this isn’t strictly wine but many French aren’t aware that their beloved liqueur, Chartreuse was made by the monks of the same order for 86 years in Tarragona, Spain. Chartreuse is interesting in that it ages and evolves in the bottle and these bottles produced in Spain, while using the original, secret recipe, were actually believed to be more vibrant as the herbs were from the Mediterranean, not near the Alps. This hasn’t been lost on many and slowly the bottles that remain have found great desire on the secondary market. I’ve been seeing all the markers about the fact that, even though a modest bottle of Tarragona Chartreuse will fetch 300€, many have been running out to get them. We’ll see more people getting all Chartreuse-y in 2019 and onward, especially as the old bottles get harder and harder to find.

Merlot makes a come back

It’s been 15 years since “Sideways” came out and the “fucking Merlot” thing happened. As that’s nearly a generation of drinkers that will have nearly no reference as to why people think Merlot sucks (it doesn’t) I can’t see how it doesn’t become a “rediscovered” grape. Maybe it won’t happen exactly next year but Merlot makes some wonderful wines and we need to get over off-the-cuff lines that relate only to the crappy hot climate Merlot that’s churned out by the truck load, thank you California Central Valley.

2019 will be an above average vintage in Mediterranean zones

This is just based upon previous weather patterns and the fact that 2018 was very wet with up to twice the normal rainfall amounts in some areas–whatever “normal” is anymore. Water tables have been nicely replenished after several dry years and so if there’s a good amount of even heat in 2019, it should turn out a rather classic vintage for regions that have a Mediterranean influence. This could go, horribly, horribly sideways of course…

Fake color wines will essentially vanish

The ridiculous “blue wine” trend seems to have largely slowed down and died off, thankfully. Maybe someone will try releasing another one but it would appear the novelty has largely worn off. That and the fact the original, Gik, tasted like sweetened dish soap didn’t help. Perhaps if a green wine comes out that tastes and smells exactly like Cornas Syrah, then maybe we’ll have something. Otherwise, chalk this up to one for the historical dust bin.

Carignan/Carinyena sees its day in the sun

As if it wasn’t enough that “Sweet Berry Wine” is made predominantly from Carignan, the fact that Carinyena is now permitted to be labeled as such on wines from Catalunya leads me to believe that this grape will shed its scorned past and be the treasured variety that it can most definitely be. The high appeal of smooth, rich tannins combined with high acidity, medium to medium plus alcohol, and a rich, complex set of aromas and flavors will allow varietal wines of this grape to get picked up and placed highly on wine lists.

The other shoe will fall in the Master Sommelier scandal

It’s not because I earned the “Certified Sommelier” title that I’ve not written about the whole Master Sommelier exam scandal that happened in September. It’s more the fact that it’s an ongoing event with the first group of re-takes having happened at the beginning of December. There haven’t been any more official press releases from the Court and one shoddy outlet keeps crying “foul!” in this regard but honestly, it’s a private organization that is doing the best with an outlandish situation. That said, this story is long from being over and some other development will come to pass in 2019 whether that’s lawsuits (this is the US chapter after all) or something else. This won’t be forgotten, especially as there’s been so much work to get the job of sommelier to have such a regard.