The State of Wine 2012
By Vic Poulos
A lot of people, places and issues dominated the world of wine in 2012. Some of the more interesting ones follows in this article and as a special bonus, I’ve included my 2013 Wine Resolutions.
Fortunately, 2012 saw a steady increase in both wine sales and in the average price point of consumer’s favorites. Thanks to an excellent domestic harvest this year, we can expect 2013 to be an even better year for wine producers.
Sales of the sweet and floral Moscato wine continue to go through the roof and almost all major U.S. producers are now producing a sweet red wine. It has taken the rest of the country a while to catch up with this local trend in enjoying sweeter red wines, but the country seems to have arrived. Moscato has become the third most popular white wine in the U.S., behind Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay (still the country’s best seller, red or white).
Innovative sales approaches are also carrying forward from 2012 to 2013. Wine on tap, such as those offered by local favorite “Crust” seem to be the rage in most major US cities. Wine served from kegs, as is beer, is nothing new in Europe where locals save cash and materials by bellying up to the local winemaker’s tank and filling their own bottles.
The internet also came alive in 2012 with interactive wine tastings. If you haven’t checked out a 24-hour live tasting on Twitter, you’re missing out on a really interesting new trend. Other social media such as Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have also allowed the working consumer a greater opportunity to participate in wine at their leisure.
We’re also seeing wine retailers and wholesalers continue to consolidate, generating more retail opportunities for consumers. Who would have thought several years ago that El Paso would have not one, but two Spec’s retail outlets? Massive winery and distributor E&J Gallo’s expansion continues, with the private wine producer’s revenues in 2012 predicted to be in excess of 2011′s $3.4 billion. Southern Wine and Spirits, National and Glazers wholesalers also continue to expand their portfolios, bringing new and often hard to find wines to local restaurants. Even Amazon is considering a re-entry into the business after an earlier failed venture in the world of wine.
Wine tourism, including the ever-growing Napa, California, Oregon and Washington State viticulture regions, continue to capitalize on travelers and their desire for wine knowledge. Wineries with interactive visitor centers such as the one opened last year by Francis Ford Coppola in Sonoma, and Marchesi Antinori’s new facility in Italy, are becoming extremely popular tourist attractions. Wine ocean cruises are also now being offered throughout the year and European wine-themed river cruises are dominating the travel industry, often filling up more than a year in advance.
Now for my 2013 Wine Resolutions! They are actually very simple. I want to experiment more and stay out of the rut of drinking only one type of wine all the time. How much Pinot Noir can one person drink anyway? Second, I’m continuing my campaign against wine ratings and complex descriptors. There are still so many flowery and advanced ways to describe wine that even an English professor can’t decipher. We need to follow our own likes and dislikes of wine, and not depend on the opinions of critics, neighbors or that snobby nephew who just criticized what we were drinking while he was visiting from New York. You know who he is – he’s the one who couldn’t resist telling everyone about that excellent bottle of white burgundy he had while dining at “Per Se” in Manhattan.
When you go to a wine retailer ask their opinion on what is new and moderately priced – and quit worrying about what Robert Parker or Wine Spectator rated the wine last year – especially since it is becoming more and more clear he’s turning over the reins to his assistants.
Get some friends together, experiment, and see what you like best– that’s what wine is all about! Happy New Year!