It’s January and that can only mean two things. One, I’m trying to figure out whether to eat a sensible dinner or spend my points on a few glasses of wine instead, and, two, the annual ritual of booze trend forecasts are flooding the interwebs.
This is nothing new, but it got me thinking. How many of these predictions actually come true? Foreseeing next year’s trends is a challenge, but what about those from a decade from now? Woo-wee! Who would be bold enough to put themselves on the line like that? Robert Parker, that’s who.
So, let’s see how the “Million-Dollar Nose” fared. Just over a decade ago, Parker put forward a prediction in Food & Wine magazine:
Robert M. Parker, Jr., the world’s foremost wine guru, makes 12 bold predictions about seismic changes that will influence how we’ll shop, what we’ll buy and how much we’ll pay.
TWELVE!? That is so crazy, Bob, it’s Italian television crazy. More importantly, it’s way too long for me to prove or disprove in a single blog post and keep you reading until the end. Long story short, Parker won some and lost some. Just for fun, I chose my three favorites and excerpted them below, followed by how Parker’s prediction turned out.
- Distribution will be revolutionized
I predict the total collapse of the convoluted three-tiered system of wine distribution in the United States…It is an absurdly inefficient system that costs the consumer big bucks. This narrowly restricted approach (blame all the lobbyists funded by powerful liquor and wine wholesalers) is coming to a dramatic end—hastened in part by the comparative ease of ordering wine over the Internet.
Direct-to-consumer and e-commerce wine sales are clearly growing at a steady rate. While many in the industry would like to see them move faster, the fact of the matter is “online wine sales in the U.S. have been increasing at double digit rates for the past five years, but are still less than 2% of all wine sales” (Osborne, 2014 sourced from Winebusiness.com). Wine over the internet is here to stay and growing, but for now, so is the three-tiered system.
- Corks will come out
I believe wines bottled with corks will be in the minority by 2015. The cork industry has not invested in techniques that will prevent “corked” wines afflicted with the musty, moldy, wet-basement smell that ruins up to 15 percent of all wine bottles.
A decade later, and cork is still going strong, used in 80% of the new bottles produced today according to Wine Enthusiast. That 15% of wine affected by TCA has been reduced to 1-3% of wine affected by cork taint (check out Wine Folly’s awesome comparison!), due largely to innovations and investments made by the cork industry. Screwcap and other alternative closures are widely used and accepted in everyday wines and other wines meant to be enjoyed young. Cork, however, continues to be used globally, particularly on premium wines and above, and is most certainly not in the minority.
- Diversity will be the word
By 2015 the world of wine will have grown even more diverse. We will see quality wines from unexpected places like Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Mexico, China, Japan, Lebanon, Turkey and perhaps even India. But I believe that even with all these new producers, the saturation point will not be reached, since ever greater numbers of the world’s population will demand wine as their alcoholic drink of choice.
Bingo! Bob was right on with this one. Quality wine is now being made around the U.S. and world in unbelievable places. The top three winemaking regions are still France, Italy and Spain, but wine is most certainly coming from unexpected places, from Romania to Thailand to China. With reports of supply dropping, while demand rises, Parker was 100% correct in this particular prediction.