THE BOOZE BIN
By Caroline Helper (@forgetburgundy)
As is the media’s wont every time the last digit of the calendar changes, they have inundated us with prognostications for the coming year in every industry from tires to protective eyewear and just about everything in between. Well, this PR lady’s got a few of her own to add to the all-consuming wave and, gird your loins, folks, 2013 is gearing up to be a real game changer in the wine industry. Ready or not, here it comes…*
1. Wines for dudes. That’s right, girlfriend, looks like your Skinnygirl’s not going to be the only wine in the fridge once your boyfriend gets a look at the manly quaffs 2013’s got in store. When it comes to wine marketing, it’s no secret that women are the key demographic – it seems like every week there are new competitors, slapped with visions of skinny women batting enviable eyelashes or having such a lovely lunch at a café table, or simply bearing an adorable cupcake. Because women always go for cupcakes. Obvi. 2013 will be the year of man juice – chest-pounding, robust, and bicep-curling wines meant exclusively to pair with manly things like steaks and bacon and whiskey. Wait – whiskey? Psh, you’ll never be like Hemingway if you can’t pair your whiskey with wine and then go shoot a moose. And then eat it. Man up with manly wine this year and look forward to some wine that will show you what The Grapes of Wrath really means.
2. Wines produced from foraged grapes. At this point, wine made from foraged grapes is the inevitable frontier. We’ve had salads, jams, and soups (or we haven’t lived!) all produced from foraged greens, sea grasses, and mushrooms – so why the hold-up when it comes to wines? Quantity, namely – you need quite a lot of grapes to make a few bottles of wine. However, I predict that a handful of crafty producers will set out, hiking boots in tow, to scour the countryside for abandoned grape vines from which to procure their wine-making materials. Look, wine-making is hard and it’s not for everyone and a lot of people have woken up and thought, “I like wine! I think I’ll plant a vineyard!” only to go bankrupt in the process. Trust me, those neglected vineyards are out there just ripe for the picking.3. Kim Kardashian will launch a line of non-alcoholic wines for babies. Because, you know – it’s really important to start training the palate early and there’s no such thing as too soon for sophistication. I think Suri taught us all a really important lesson there. Heels at 3? Kimye’s gotta think big. And besides, it’s not grape juice, it’s an untapped market.
4. Wines no one has ever tasted before. Scientists this year will revive the DNA sequence of long-extinct grape varieties and create ridiculously limited-quality wines that will literally be like nothing even the most earnest wine geek has ever tasted. Don’t believe me? Scientists have gotten, like, Jurassic-Park-scary good at mapping genomes and cloning stuff. It’s not science fiction anymore, kids, it’s just science.
5. Wine and salt pairings. If 2012 was the year of lichens and moss, 2013 will be the year of salt. Artisinal, local, and even rare salts will take over fine-dining menus across the country. These location-specific salts, whether sourced from the black sand beaches of Hawaii or the pink ledges of the Himalayas each have a distinct taste that carries with it a sense of terroir in a way that only wine can rival. So why not pair the two? Just think of the sparks between a robust Shiraz and the earthy nuances of rosy grains harvested from Australia’s Murray River.
6. House wines from national fast-casual chains. CostCo has its own wine, why not your neighborhood Chilis? Or Applebees? Not sufficed to load you up with 780 hidden calories in an otherwise harmless smoked turkey wrap (“There’s lettuce in it! I can spot a calorie bomb when I see it,” you say to yourself as you sit smugly back in your booth), casual dining chains will start to produce their own branded “house wines” that are loaded with hidden sugar (hello, calories!) and low enough alcohol levels to make you feel like you’ve spouted a hollow leg as you (hah!) down your fourth glass.
7. Fashion-friendly wines. This year, colored wines are going to make a big impact. White? Boring. Red? Passe. Rose? Eh. While the fashion world made a huge leap in making friends with the wine world when it sanctioned a deep rich burgundy hue christened “oxblood” for fall, the wine world has decided to repay that favor in kind – and a team of dedicated viticulturists have spent the last year working to create truly non-interactive color addititives that the most discerning fashionistas can add to their favored glass of wine to ensure that what’s in their glass matches their outfit. Perfectly. If the 2000’s have taught us anything, its that accessorizing is an increasingly important aspect of any outfit.
8. Twee wines will take over**. If the past few years in wine have taught us anything, it’s that appealing to the consumer of the moment pays off. Whether we’re talking Housewives making wines to appeal to housewives or those so-adorable-I-couldn’t-resist-the-bear-in-the-rowboat-what-do-you-mean-what-does-it-have-to-do-with-wine “critter wines,” wine is often much more about connecting with your targeted consumer that it is about what’s actually in the bottle. So this year, I predict, will be the year of the Twee Wines. What is twee? Twee is hipster weddings replete with wildflowers in mason jars, succulent “floral” arrangements, pennants and bare Edison bulbs strung across picnic tables, hand-drawn illustrations of couples with bangs and mustaches, and putting a bird on it (see Portlandia Season 1 Episode 2). Expect your wines to be infused with an almost unbearable sense of charm, quaintness, and old-timey good times.