Wine Trends for 2020

Photo credit: Joris Luyten.

How time flies; another year has come to an end! This means it is a good time to look back at last year’s post and evaluate what I had envisioned for 2019, before announcing which trends in the wine world I expect to rise and blossom in the 366 days to come. Fortunately last year’s predictions didn’t put me to shame: ‘Less but Better’, ‘Indigenous and Authentic’ and ‘Enchanting Pairings’ definitely epitomised 2019 for me. Now, I expect all three of those trends to happily continue in the coming year, but what else can we spot on the horizon for 2020?

1. The Transformation of Classic Wine Regions

In wine, as in life, we often think in terms of ‘old’ and ‘new’: ‘Old World’ versus ‘New World’, established regions versus upcoming ones, and the more traditional approach of older generations in contrast to the fresh, modern dynamism of the young guns. In reality, however, this separation is rarely accurate, nor useful. First of all: the spirit of invention is not restricted to a certain age group or generation. Secondly: specific ingenious, entrepreneurial and inspirational individuals and organisations can have a massive impact on an entire, global industry. And most importantly: innovation and experience tend to go hand in hand. After all, being rooted in the past does not have to mean you’re stuck in it.

This is what we see happening now: many so-called classic wine regions are adapting and transforming. It’s not so much a reinvention as a transformation and reintegration of tradition, identity and technical know-how, with a clear focus on the future. Take Champagne, for instance, with its well-researched, large-scale and effective approach to sustainable development. Here not just a number of pioneering growers are working organically or biodynamically, but significant efforts are undertaken by the entire sector ánd by their suppliers. Or look at Bordeaux, where not only vineyard and winemaking practices but also rebranding, education, winery design and wine tourism steer an iconic region towards a bright and glorious future.

And a fabulous wine country such as Germany, which has among bons vivants long suffered a rather stuffy, rustic oom-pah music image, which was an obstacle for it to be taken seriously as a producer of fine wines by the wider public. Now many German wineries, like their Austrian neighbours, are a prime example of integrating tradition with technological, economic and social innovation. As a result, their already famous study programmes and research institutes continue to deliver, and winemakers of all ages and from all 13 German wine regions are producing an ever wider array of gastronomic, world-class white, rosé, red wines, both still and sparkling.

Schlossgut Diel, Nahe region, Germany. Winemaker Caroline Diel was elected FAZ Winemaker of the Year in December 2019.

2. The Revival of Local Products and Native Grapes

Forgotten fruits, heirloom vegetables and regional cheeses have been back in fashion for a while now, and it is great to see that native grape varieties are enjoying a similar revival. Thanks to sustained efforts by growers, winemakers, researchers, wine journalists and associations all over the world, many countries and regions are looking into their indigenous wine grapes and (re)plantings are on the rise.

Not to underestimate here is the percolating effect of internationally best-selling wine books such as the hefty 2012 classic Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and the Swiss botanist and grape geneticist José Vouillamoz. More specifically for Italy, a veritable cornucopia of indigenous grapes, I highly recommend Ian D’Agata’s Native Wine Grapes of Italy, and his most recent book Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs, published in August 2019. They’re true treasure troves for budding as well as experienced wine heritage / heritage wine fans.

A long list of national and regional interprofessional organisations are also playing an important part in spreading the word, highlighting their local grapes on websites and in clear, attractive brochures. Among my absolute favourites are the official wine sites of Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Sicily, the Rhône wines and the French Southwest.

View on Barolo, Italy, home to i.a. the Indigena festival, dedicated to native Italian grape varieties and wines.

3. Sparkling in Pink

Worldwide, sparkling wines are as popular as ever. Rosé bubbles, however, have remained strongly undervalued. Their quality and diversity continues to go up and there is significant growth potential in this segment. Over the last decade, still rosé wines have made a successful comeback and consumers have started to realise how food-friendly these can be. More recently wine lovers are also discovering the tremendous potential of sparkling wines as versatile food partners. I’m a big fan of experimenting with rosé champagnes to match all kinds of food, from salads and root vegetable dishes to fish, white and red meats, and definitely cheeses. The diverse flavour profiles, from light, fresh and fruity to deep, complex and almost savoury, have the potential to inspire astounding food and wine pairings.

Alongside Champagne, you have a wide range of other choices and at different price points: rosé Crémant, Cava, Sekt, PétNat, British Fizz – or their Belgian, Australian, Californian and South African siblings. It is impossible not to find a type of effervescent rosé to match any occasion, dish or time of day and night. And who knows, maybe 2020 is the year we will even see real rosé DOC Prosecco on the market?

I wish you a brilliant, phenomenal 2020, full of radiant smiles, belly laughs, wondrous wines, fabulous foods, dreams and magic – and most of all: the energy, clarity and courage to make all of this happen. Happy New Year! 💖


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