Another year bites the dust and 2007 is well on its way. The Winegeeks writers recently discussed the greatest wine trends of the previous year. Now, they're looking into the crystal balls to make their predictions on which events and trends will have the greatest effect on the wine industry in the year 2007.
In your opinion, what will be the most important wine trend in 2007?
E. S. Brown
Global warming. Global warming, global climate change, whatever you want to call it. The earth is getting warmer. Regardless of why you think this is happening it is impossible to argue that 2006 was the hottest year in recorded history. While the affect on the wine industry may seem like small potatoes when compared to the ice caps melting, on a more local scale millions of people around the world depend upon wine in some manner for their daily bread.
Dramatic changes to the climate are already having a severe impact upon the industry. Germany produced no ice wine in 2006. The storms that savagely ripped their way across Europe a couple of weeks ago are a harbinger of more to come as unusually warm water courses through the Atlantic Ocean. Many areas long known as cool climate wine regions are getting hotter. If you are far to the north this may bring more consistent weather, but what about areas that are already hot? Will Vancouver be the new Napa Valley and Napa Valley the new Death Valley? Areas that have been famous for centuries may end up being just too hot and dry to produce anything except overripe, overblown and overly-alcoholic bottles of jam. Let's hope not, but it may be time to start scoping out vineyard land in Canada.
The "what could be" predictions for 2007 are an open field. A magician's magic hat, if you will. Put your hand in and you could pull out any number of things that will change, or begin to change, the world of wine. Personally, I see the country of Greece stepping it up this year. Winemakers there have been on the up-and-up for thousands of years, literally, but this will be the year that more of us Westerners realize how incredible the varietals and winemaking of Greece really are. This will be the year where Assyrtiko and Malagousia overtake Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat as great food-pairing wines, and where the inexpensive, yet gorgeous red wines of northern Greece outshine Syrah and Merlot. And what, with today's food influences reaching further into the Mediterranean, why not try your next pasta dish with a Greek white, or that roasted rack of lamb with a Greek red?
I believe 2007 will bring about 2 very important, yet very different trends in the wine industry. The first is the standardization of wine marketing. All of the New World countries, from the Americas to South Africa to Oceania have recently agreed to standardize wine labels. Even France has admitted that its wine labels are confusing to its consumers outside of Europe and has agreed to standardize its labels for ease of understanding. So, I believe 2007 will be a year where consumers are able to understand what grapes makeup a wine and the exact appellation that wine comes from just by reading the wine label, which in my opinion is one of the most confusing facets of wine that a newbie has to face.
Secondly, this is the year we will see the downfall of the traditional wine critics who have almost single-handedly driven the wine industry with reviews that promote extracted, high-alcohol, one-dimensional wines based on 100-point rating scales that start at 84. While these moguls certainly will not go away, 2007 will see a new era of user-contributed websites. Blogs and podcasts will provide a different slant on the wine industry, one that stems from the point of view of the regular consumer. Winegeeks is one of those websites. In the coming months, you will see a complete overhaul of the entire Winegeeks website. What's the predominant difference, you may ask? Well, I'm going to hold back on the details for now... But let's just say that we are going to enable you, the average consumer, to make a difference in the wine industry. Keep checking back... I guarantee you'll love the new site.