THE BOOZE BIN
By Pia Mara Finkell (@piamara)
It’s that time of year again. Obnoxious Christmas music blasts in stores, despite the fact that Thanksgiving is next week. Can’t we focus on one holiday at a time? But I digress…
With 2012 just around the corner, here’s a look at the major booze trends ready to make a splash in the New Year. Cheers!
1. Value is the new cheap
When the recession first hit a few years ago, headlines like “Top 10 wines for under $10” and “Secrets to drinking on the cheap” became ubiquitous. Cheap was the new black. Interestingly, trends this year seem to instead be moving toward a desire for value at all price points, and 2012 looks to place more importance on consumers trading up to get better values and find diamonds in the rough.
As an example, I work with the wines of Rioja, a region noted for its value proposition at various price points. We have noted the biggest growth this year in our premium wines, Reservas and Gran Reservas, which grew by over 50% and 95% respectively in the first half of the year. Rather than simply cheap wines, it seems consumers are looking for wines that taste more expensive than their price tags.
2. Eat Local. Drink Local
The Farm to Table movement has been around and going strong for quite a few years, but recently, this locavore movement seems to be translating into support for local wineries (yes, they’re farmers, too!), brewers (many grow their own hops and source ingredients locally) and local artisanal spirits.
I wrote recently about my love affair with Virginia wines and the movement to #DrinkLocal, and I’m not the only one. From a growing organization devoted to the local wine movement, to a bill supporting local craft brewers to news of a recently launched American Craft Spirits website devoted to the craft American spirits movement, including whiskey to rum to absinthe.
3. Burgundy over Bordeaux
With Bordeaux prices at astronomical levels, it seems the future markets, especially in Asia, are turning to a neighbor to the east focusing in pinot vs. cabernet. According to Elin McCoy’s recent article in Bloomberg, the big bidders are getting tired of the “ubiquitous” Bordeaux.
“Burgundy’s on fire and sizzling,” said John Kapon, president of New York-based Acker Merrall & Condit, which set 145 price records at its Nov. 4 and 5 auction in Hong Kong. “Bordeaux is a day at the office now.”
On a personal note, while I also prefer Burgundy, I’d take that day in the office any day!
4. Movement for modesty…in alcohol levels
Halleluiah, it looks like the wine verging on port, fruit bomb movement is dwindling at last. While there is, of course, still an audience for 15 and 16 % alcohol, “New World” wines, it looks like winemakers and consumers are finally swinging that pendulum back towards more elegant and balanced wines with modest alcohol levels (think 13-14%).
According to a recent Washington Post article, despite their reputation as producers of “overripe, over-oaked, too high in alcohol” wines, top California are making the “return to elegance,” including Francis Ford Coppola of Niebaum-Coppola and Bob Lindquist of Qupe winery. Others in California are proud to maintain this more reserved style, such as Au Bon Climat, Arcadian, Alma Rosa, Copain, Clos du Val, Qupe and Frog’s Leap.
5. Wine sales lead charge, but overall alcohol sales predicted to rise
Overall on-premise alcohol sales, especially in the wine sector will increase in 2012 by 2.4 and 3.5 respectively, according to the food and wine research firm Technomic, as reported by a recent issue of Nation’s Restaurant News.
An increase in prices will contribute to this growth, but also according to the Los Angeles Times, strong demand for wines by the glass, craft beer and premium spirits will play a part.