Wine trends of the Naughties – reflections through the wine glass

rearviewEveryone’s looking back! The Telegraph kicked things off with an article last week about wine trends of this decade — “the Naughties.” The signal trend highlighted by Jonathan Ray is making pink wine acceptable. He continues to list some other winners and losers in his column.

Over on eBob, there’s a discussion of the best wines of the decade. While which wine was the best remains a matter of discussion, one trend is for certain: there was a steep escalation in prices of the top wines from around the world over the past decade.

What are some of the other trends of the past ten years? Well, the fundamental trend of the decade for us Americans is a decade of increased wine consumption. Every year from 2000 – 2008 (2009 data are not yet in but look to continue the trend), per capita wine consumption rose. Without this rising interest in wine, many of the other items might not have happened, or, at least, happened more slowly.

Another notable trend has been the rise of imported wine. In volume terms, this is largely thanks to Yellow Tail, created only in 2002 but has since quickly hopped to the biggest wine brand in the history of the world!! Indeed, Australian wine’s rise and fall of operatic proportions would make it a strong contender for the title of wine country of the decade.

More focused, smaller importers have also bringing more diverse wines from smaller producers and off-the-beaten path grapes than ever before. Without them, and the many specialty wine shops that sell their wines, this wine lover’s glass would be half empty.

Speaking of this wine lover, what was I doing ten years ago? Oh, yes, researching my Ph.D. dissertation about the political economy of the wine industry in France and the US. When I finished, some friends gave me the domain name of Dr. Vino and I joined the blogger brigade that has certainly turned into one of the decade’s most exciting trends (but I am biased!). Ten years ago, the trend among wine writers was to talk at consumers; today, as more confident and knowledgeable consumers have blogs (as do most newspapers and magazines), the discussion is much more lateral in bulletin boards and elsewhere. And to think that ten years ago there was no Cellartracker!

Domestically, the boutique wine industry got a shot in the arm from the 2005 Supreme Court decision that paved the way to opening up shipping from wineries to consumers. In some states, however, the bureaucratic requirements still stymie smaller producers. And the efforts to turn the fifty state markets to one national market for wine retailers will continue into the next decade (or two).

Stylistically, wines, particularly whites, have turned sharply from more overt oak to less (or none). And some wines are reversing course too, turning from higher alcohol to lower. The tough sledding at the end of the decade for high end wines may have made producers rethink using absurdly heavy bottles, thereby reducing their costs and carbon footprint. Fortunately, box wines have shown a few glimmers of improvement and hopefully producers and importers will continue to put better wines in this format, which is affordable and accessible.

These are just a few major trends from the Naughties in the wine world. What are some of the most important ones for you?

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16 Responses to “Wine trends of the Naughties – reflections through the wine glass”

  1. The most notable feature of the last decade in wine is–for my palate–the catastrophic slide of far too many wines into a Parkerista swamp of overripe fruit, low acid, high alcohol and enough oak to start a saw mill. The pronounced move away from the appreciation of wines with charm, elegance, style, breed and grace marks this decade for me. Shall we call it the Dick Cheney (no residual sugar there!)wine epoch?

  2. Because no one cares where Yellow Tail comes from (Appelation Australia, maybe) there is nothing scandalous about its proliferation, at least not in a front page type of way. But the unmentioned trend of the “Noughties” that interests me the most is the greed of producers from Spain (Las Rocas?, Sierra Carche?) to Brunello, aka Tuscany Pt 1 (sorry, I forgot absolutely everyone was exonerated) to Tuscany Pt II that is unfolding now.

    I am hoping that in 2020 one of the trends we look back on for the ’10’s is a small increase in consumers interest in and insistence on “knowing our farmers” when it comes to wine.

    A related PS: Did anyone else chuckle at the irony of the Decanter promoting its “How to Analyse Colour” video at the bottom of the page where they announced the latest scandal in Chianti? I just spent 4 days with a producer from Abruzzo who told many stories of Montepulciano (not his) being sold in bulk to producers in “the north of Italy”, precisely because they needed more color.

  3. Dry rosés have become more available and more accepted. There’s still that stigma of White Zinfandel, but a whole category of wine has gone from odd curiosity to hip trend–just look at the booming popularity of pink sparkling wines in the past two years.

    I also think that wine is being viewed as more normal on TV and in movies, i.e. not just on the table for holidays or consumed by the wealthy. Even if it’s not explicitly mentioned (and it rarely is), you’re seeing more everyday wine consumption by characters representing all socioeconomic classes. One example I love is on Friday Night Lights, in which the Texas football coach and his wife occasionally drink wine with dinner. Imagine that scene 10 or 20 years ago and it doesn’t seem to fit as well, but now it’s such a non-issue that nobody even notices.

  4. Damien

    A very realistic and desirable goal. Well said, if it comes true – we will all be better off.

    “I am hoping that in 2020 one of the trends we look back on for the ’10’s is a small increase in consumers interest in and insistence on “knowing our farmers” when it comes to wine”

  5. Can anyone tell me what deep, dark, black color has to do with the quality of a wine?

  6. Gerry –

    When I have doubts about the need for dark black color and high levels of extraction I like to browse around on the interwebs for a reminder of how important they are. In response to your querry, I found this informative video:

    In it, a winemaker explains that he uses a particular enzyme “To produce optimium quality and obtain a color fitting to a great, age-worthy wine”.

    And thank goodness, because everyone knows that lighter colored reds without massive amounts of extract don’t age. I’m so glad I stopped buying Burgundy, Cabernet Franc, real Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and so many other, nasty grapes long ago.


  7. I agree, Damien, that pale-coloured 1947 Tondonia that I have may only have 15-20 years left in it! And a 1922 Marques de Riscal that I had within the last year must have been on its last legs because I could see the bottom of the glass through. And I’ve got a nearly 30-year old Clos de la Roche that really has me worried. Boy, they sure don’t make wines like they used to. Back then, they didn’t make wines that one guy I read says they do now. Meaning it as a complement to the high octane Garnacha he was in love with, he wrote it “shoves a foot in your face.” Uhh, I guess I just don’t get it. But, then again, you don’t learn as much about wine by drinking them and tasting them in cellars for forty years as you can in three years of buying wines rated in the stratosphere in newsletters.

  8. As a big supporter/promoter of boxed wines I’m pleased to see their rising popularity given its due. But to them I would add that the breakthrough of the screw cap on fine wines accepted by consumers as key, and leading the way for the likes of fine boxed wines, Zorks, PET bottles, and other alternative wine packaging. Hopefully the future portends more green packaging.

    Another trend of the decade is the role that imports have had on “new” varietal acceptance among consumers, i.e., New Zealand sauvignon blancs and Argentine malbecs. I personally believe this is a favorable trend, keeping the wonderful diversity of wine alive and healthy.

  9. Gerry –

    I agree. My experience with older DRC has been nothing but disappointing. Here are some notes I took a while back. What a bunch of pale red headed step children these wines were.


  10. I agree with Benito — dry Rosés as a class have become more available and more accepted. For me personally, this trend really resonates, because I’ve discovered a whole new “family” of wines to love, and I drink them often. Two years ago I probably wouldn’t have touched the stuff!
    Another trend has been the attempt by some wine writers and others in the wine cognoscenti — at least in the blogosphere — to demystify wine, and along with it, the almighty palate of Robert Parker, and wine ratings in general. I see alot of movement, even among mainstream wine professionals, towards the attitude of “trust your palate, and drink what you like,” which has long been my personal motto.

  11. The biggest phenomenon of the decade in white wine had to be Gruner Veltliner. Austrian producers have been so successful that they’re already not cool in certain precincts. Fine by me, maybe it will keep the price of Martin Mittelbach’s Tegernseerhof Hohereck ’07 in check.

  12. I think one of the most exciting developments in the last decade has been the establishment of viable wine industries in the northern tier of states…Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire etc. This has been made possible through the grape breeding efforts of the late Elmer Swenson(Osceola, Wisconsin) and the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center. New, winter hardy grape varieties such as Edelweiss, St. Croix, Frontenac, Marquette and LaCrescent have expanded the boundaries of North American viticulture to areas previously too cold to grow this fruit. I think that is an amazing and welcome development. The presence of vineyards and wineries adds richness to any cultural landscape, and the vineyards and wineries sprouting up in the North are a fascinating recent story.

  13. Dry rosé becoming acceptable, the encouraging quality gains in boxed wines and the slow move away from furniture wines (over-oaked) are all positves. Negatives remain in the high alcohol cocktail wines and the commodity glut of certain vineyards growing the wrong grapes in the wrong places.
    But home winemakers – many of whom have become gone on to become some pretty big name producers – have better access to better quality fruit, equipment and techniques than ever before. You want to know what the next Big Thing is likely to be? Look at what the homies are doing.

  14. Certainly during the past few years, we have seen a rising interest in natural wines and wines made from organic grapes. That is evidenced in the steady rise in sales of these wines.
    But I think it has more to do with our growing maturity as a wine drinking nation. As a nation, we started incorporating wine as part of our meals, then we learned to pronounce the grape varietals and now we start to care about how the wine is actually made.
    This process mirrors our relationship to our food, which has gone from a fascination with packaged goods to a resurgence in urban farmers markets.

  15. I think the biggest development in the past ten years is how wineries began to care about the environment. Back in 2000, I was called a tree hugger for reporting on how vineyard neighbors were concerned that pesticides and herbacides might be causing cancer. Now, everyone is trying to be as green as possible. Hard to believe that was not fashionable ten years ago.

    Other than that, my vote is for the screwcap, the best invention since the bottle label.

  16. […] como todo conecta en esta interné del vino, les remito a un artículo aparecido en Dr. Vino hará poco más de un par de días. El buen doctor pondera, en su amable modo […]


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