Top 10 Wine Stories of 2006

by Tim Elliott on January 2, 2007

By way of Mark Fisher’s Uncorked blog I learned of the Wine Enthusiast’s, “Top 10 Wine Stories of 2006.” I must admit that this pub has been off my radar screen since I got kicked off their comp list some years ago (ironically before I started writing and podcasting here). I have always liked their wine accessories and been a customer off and on and still receive their catalog every once in a while (in fact, I think they make more money off that business than advertising in the magazine).

I think it’s fun to look back on the year just passed and then try to identify the trends for the coming year, so let’s take a look at what the Enthusiast thinks was hot in 2006 with my take on each item:

1. Millennials embrace wine – No question about it that the 29 and under age group will be the biggest customer set for wine since the Baby Boomers. The problem is most vintner’s don’t know how to tap into this demographic from a marketing point of view yet. I’ll be spending most of 2007 working on this and might even write a book on the subject.

2. India and China – Both huge markets with growing middle class populations but I don’t know enough about their cultures to gauge if they will adopt wine in a big way. Perhaps these will be the next markets for Yellowtail once U.S. tastes evolve?

3. Global warming – My personal view is we don’t yet know how climate change is happening but it definately is getting warmer. The impact for vineyard owners will be profound as the climate in many of the best vineyard locations becomes too hot for the varieties currently planted. Look to the New World to respond with grafting over to better varieties to deal with these changes and new regions will emerge like parts of the UK and Midwestern U.S; Long Island will become as important as Napa. I don’t think I’ll see Syrah from Burgundy in my lifetime but my grandchildren might if things keep going in this direction.

4. Wine and health – Much has been written about the healthful qualities of our favorite beverage and I expect this to continue this year. Perhaps these benefits of moderate consumption will silence the still powerful forces against alcohol here in the U.S.

5. The Australian wine glut continues – I expect more cute labels and off-dry red wines in the stores. And perhaps some better pricing for consumers.

6. New packaging, new seals, new deal – Not sure if I agree that alternative closures were much of a story outside of wine geek circles but these seem to have made progress in 2006. I hope to see more Stelvin closures on wine to be enjoyed within 3-5 years of bottling and a clear alternative to cork for wines to be aged (which could also be the Stelvin but the jury seems to be out).

7. Argentina emerges – I don’t think the wines of Argentina really made any headway with U.S. consumers in 2006 but there are a few other brands of Malbec on the shelves. Hopefully we’ll see some other varietals emerge from this country this year.

8. The rise of rosé – I think this is a result of two things; first, consumers are looking for more food friendly wines and winemakers are looking for ways to market juice drained off during fermentation to concentrate their uber reds. What that resulted in was a flood of really nice rose wines on the market that were also good values. And we need to drink chilled wines with all this global warming, etc. :)

9. Wine on steroids – I think this is the real story of 2006, which I tried to bring forward during my turn hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday last year. Many red wines have gotten too big to be enjoyed with food and I believe this will result in a return to more elegant and balanced wines in 2007 and beyond. In 5 years, we’ll see the pendulum had swung the other way this year.

10. Truth in labeling – A non-story in my book. They clearly wanted a “Top 10″ list and ran out of ideas at 9. It only makes sense that wines labeled “Napa” should come from that appellation no matter where the bottling line is located.

I’ll post my predictions for the top wine stories of 2007 shortly.

  • http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/ el jefe

    From my perspective one of the biggest stories of 2006 is staring at me right on the screen: The rise of the Internet as a means for discussing, learning about, sharing ideas about, acquiring, and even sharing wine itself.

    Not that they would write about that…

  • http://winecast.net Tim

    I think you’ll like my list of predictions, Jeff. Should be posted sometime later this afternoon…

  • http://winefornewbies.net/ Bill Wilson

    Good list, Tim. I’m looking forward to your predictions.

    As for global warming, I think science has pretty much determined the cause (the greenhouse gases), but if you mean that we don’t know how climate change is going to progress and what the results will be, I think you’re right on target.

    Fortunately, there are solutions if we can find the political willpower to implement them.

    Maybe that’s one of my predictions for 2007–climate change solutions will continue to fly under the radar. I can make another prediction: I’m going to drink plenty of wine in 2007. :-)

  • http://winefornewbies.net/ Bill Wilson

    Lemme clarify that comment–we can’t accurately predict exactly how climate change will affect specific weather patterns etc. We can predict the overall effect, but not the particulars for a given area. Who knows–Europe could turn cooler as a result of climate change. There is one theory that says if the ice cap on Greenland melts, it will shut off one of the major Atlantic currents that helps keep Europe’s climate as it is. The predicted result would be a rather cooler Europe. Maybe they’ll be growing Riesling in Sicily.

  • http://www.About-Alcohol-Info.com Alcohol Info

    With the multitude of alcohol-related horror stories in the news these days it seems to me that you and other wine lovers (and wine tasters) need to get your message out to more people. In 2007, let people know that drinking wine in moderation has been shown to have many health benefits. Spread the news about the fun and good times you have experienced with wine drinking and wine tasting :-)

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