What's in (the wine) store for 2022?
So long 2021 and a big welcome to 2022. I hope that 2022 will see less turmoil for all of us than the last couple of years. Let's try to find some cheery news in what's predicted to happen in the wine world in 2022. What type of wines are likely to be on trend in 2022? And what are the issues facing the wine industry and ultimately wine consumers in the coming year?
Rising stars in the wine world in 2022
Wines that are expected to become more popular in 2022 include:
I have mentioned organic wines in my previous wine predictions but the increasing interest in biodynamic and organic wine is not going to go away any time soon – read more in my blogposts about organic wines, biodynamic wines and natural wines. More and more producers are adopting organic and / or biodynamic principles if not going the whole hog and applying for the long and sometimes costly process of certification. If not the whole organic route, then most producers are heading down the sustainability path which has to be a good thing for the planet. As new bodies are being set up in different countries to provide certification of varying degrees of sustainability however, the need for some sort of international definition of the terms ‘organic wine’, ‘biodynamic wine’, ‘sustainably produced wine’ and ‘natural wine’ is surely needed to give increasingly health- and planet-conscious consumers confidence in the provenance of the wines they are buying.
Low & no alcohol wines
Hats off to all those undertaking Dry January. Even without this popular annual alcohol fast, consumers are increasingly looking for wines with lower or no alcohol. By lower alcohol wines, I am referring here to those below about 5%. I will save for another day my arguments as to why no alcohol wine is not really wine but, whatever my thoughts, I certainly cannot deny that lower or no alcohol wines are beneficial to our health.
As I have written before, better winemakers are generally taking note of the trend towards lower levels of alcohol and are controlling ABV levels where they can, balancing the alcohol with higher natural acidity which makes for more refreshing, less heavy and less alcoholic wines. However, the warmer weather that climate change is bringing means higher natural sugar levels in the grapes and this can mean that they are sometimes fighting a losing battle when making any adjustments to lower ABV levels naturally e.g. by harvesting earlier. For low alcohol wines – and here I mean around the 10% - 11% ABV level – stick to wines like the light Vinho Verde and off-dry styles of Riesling like the lovely TWR Riesling M or the amazing Andreas Bender Dajoar Zenit Riesling.
More examples of lower and no alcohol wines are cropping up in trade fairs and industry press and so this year I’ll be going against my (wine-loving) judgement and looking to see if I can find any well-made wines that are both low in alcohol and dry or whether it just makes sense to stick to water or soft drinks when you are trying to cut back on alcohol. Watch this space!
Lighter fruity red wines & rosés
Perhaps partly due to the quest for lower alcohol levels, the trend against heavier red wines and towards the lighter, fruitier style continues with a vengeance. The most popular red wines in the portfolio recently (ignoring the Christmas trend towards Bordeaux) include the stunning, cult wine, Marcel Lapierre's Morgon from Beaujolais, Pinot Noirs in general and the very reasonably-priced, lighter Cabernet Sauvignon from First Drop, Mother’s Ruin. Rosés also are no longer just for the summer with demand only reducing slightly as the weather becomes a little fresher.
Champagne will continue to be overlooked in favour of other sparkling wines in particular English Sparkling Wine and Crémants like Manoir du Carra Crémant de Bourgogne for better value, “everyday” sparkling wines. Champagne is likely to remain the favourite for most big celebrations although a reduced harvest in 1921 will impact supply and may see Champagne prices rise in the short to medium term.
Increased interest in more unusual grape varieties
Another impact that the pandemic seems to have made is to encourage wine consumers to be more adventurous; helped perhaps by online wine tastings and more time on our hands. In the past many countries ripped out their old vines of indigenous grape varieties and planted international varieties in order to join the demand for Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or whichever commercial style wine was in demand at the time. Now there is a move back to traditional varieties and to traditional processes especially at the mid to high end of the market.
A case in point is Timorasso, an Italian white grape variety that was almost extinct in the late 1980s and is now seeing increased plantings by a number of smaller producers in Timorasso’s home area of Tortona. Ezio Poggio is one of those and his Caespes is a new addition to the portfolio and a Wow! wine.
Other wine trends in 2022
I am increasingly frustrated at the weight of some wine bottles and the environmental impact this has; heavier bottles may mean fewer breakages (I can’t see any other argument for them) but the carbon footprint of transporting them to the UK especially from so-called New World wine-producing countries is huge. There is a lot of research being carried out to find more environmentally-friendly glass bottles and other packaging for wine and demand from consumers is ramping up so I’m hopeful that we will see some progress. This may include a move to bottling here in the UK wines from overseas although admittedly this will be at the more commercial end of the market. For the more premium end of the market, let’s at least see lighter bottles please!
It seems amazing that the threatened post-Brexit wine shortages only started to surface in the last four months of 2021 although I know that some of the larger importers had been stockpiling wine in 2020. I am still waiting for some wines that were promised before Christmas 2021 because of delays in shipping and increased paperwork though the latter should improve with the need for the dreaded VI-1 form falling away from 1st January 2022.
Nevertheless I am expecting to see further delays and some possible shortages of wine in 2022. The pandemic is not helping; we’re seeing an impact on staffing in warehouses and in transportation given the virus itself and the increased demand for drivers nationwide. Unusual weather patterns occurring more frequently as a result of climate change are also a factor – a shortage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been quoted regularly in 2021 as one example but so far I have not seen the impact of that with stocks still at very healthy levels. Nevertheless the 2021 harvest in Marlborough was much reduced after heavy spring frosts with some sources quoting output reduced by about 30%. Another reason perhaps to look at some of those unusual grape varieties as an alternative!
It will be no surprise that wine prices are only going one way and it's not down - in 2022 anyway. Although the Chancellor gave us all a reprieve by not increasing excise duty on wine in the last Budget, wine is not immune to the general inflationary environment in which we find ourselves currently. Naturally Wines With Attitude is not immune to these increases sadly but I try to keep any price rises to a minimum to remain competitive.
There is some reason for hope however – as trade deals are being negotiated post Brexit, we are seeing customs duty currently paid (on top of excise duty and VAT) on wines imported from many non-EU countries being scrapped. In addition, in February 2023 when the new “fairer” excise duty system comes into being, we will at least see duty on sparkling wine at the same, lower rate as still wine. The devil however will be in the detail but let’s worry about that next year!
And what’s in store for Wines With Attitude in 2022?
The last couple of years have seen good growth for the retail wine industry and particularly for online wines in the UK, especially when we first moved into lockdown. Faced with the uncertainty of the pandemic, the novelty of more time at home and the need to find new ways to entertain themselves, many people who had previously only bought wine from the supermarket or from a local wine shop, turned online to find their wines.
It was great to see new customers discovering Wines With Attitude and although that demand has fallen to a degree since the bars and restaurants opened up again in 2021, the increased activity on the website highlighted a few shortcomings, mainly in the search engine optimisation processes ‘behind the scenes’. As a result, the website is going to see some changes. Although the project has proved more complicated and has taken a lot longer than originally envisaged, customers will soon see a new-look www.wineswithattitude.co.uk – and hopefully many more new customers will find it too!
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