It’s been a fun year for wine. Life feels vibrant — we’re able to drink in vineyards again without masks or social distance requirements. We’re also drinking in a slate of new and newly-opened bars and restaurants. And, we’re drinking new things — as climates shift and trends change, new regions are emerging and drinkers are looking past classic regions to get excited about Croatia, Georgia, Niagara, and beyond.
“In the last year, I have noticed consumers and professionals are drinking wines that are more terroir- and acid-driven,” says Jeremy Troupe-Masi who is a sommelier and Director of Hospitality for Darcie Kent Estate Winery in Livermore Valley wine region. “Most wineries will always try and sell this notion, but I see consumers gravitating towards wines that honor a story and a place in the glass.”
“I truly think that the pandemic and the rise of social awareness has changed consumer buying habits for good,” Troupe-Masi continues. “I believe that we are now buying with a bit more intention than in previous eras.” To get a sense of what 2023 may bring, we talked to some of our favorite sommeliers to see what regions they’ll be drinking into the new year. Here’s what they said:
Nora O’Malley of Cleveland’s Jaja votes for more bubbles in 2023(who can blame her?). “I think sparkling wine — not necessarily Champagne — will continue to be a popular choice for everyday drinkers, particularly as the offerings continue to expand and gain more distribution. Prices are reasonable and the styles and varieties are fun.”
Try a pet nat, consider cremant or spike your spritz with a slightly saccharine Spumante — the sparkling wine category is vast, though almost every option is refreshing and easy to drink. (Though if you’re sparse on options, Domaine Plageoles makes Méthode Gaillacoise pet nats with genuine finesse, Clos Lentiscus’ bubbles are exciting and fresh, and O’Malley loves Ryan Stirm’s sparkling Albarino out of California.)
“Of course, we couldn’t talk about 2022 without mentioning the ongoing craze for Pet Nat – naturally sparkling wines that often have similarities to craft brews with their earthy, funky undertones,” says Fallis. “Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are well-priced, fun, and attract another generation to wine!”
Troupe-Masi continues that much of the draw of non-Champagne wines is the quality. “I also think that sparklings of the world have taken a step up in quality as more wineries dig into the style. It is fun to drink, always ceremonious, and is made in such a wide variety of styles that anyone can find a reason to enjoy them whether they drink prosecco, cava, champagne, or cremants. All in all — wines that have a liveliness to them are where I will continue to head as well as consumers in my opinion.”
“Trends are so hard to predict,” says MS Thomas M. Price of 1856, but he’s keeping his eyes on the Southern Rhone.
Victor King, the executive chef and co-owner of The Essential, Bandit Pâtisserie, and Bar La Fête in Birmingham also looking to Rhone specifically, the Counoise grape. “Traditionally used in the Southern Rhône, this wine is super adaptable to dryer soil types and doesn’t take long to be an effective yielding grape. While it is often thought of as a boring blending grape to increase volume and lower the tenacity of a wine, on its own, it’s light, juicy, and a bit peppery. Cuonise is perfectly adaptable to the growing taste for lower priced chilled reds.”
The prices of Burgundy are skyrocketing at a pretty speedy clip, meaning wine lovers either need to pony up or look elsewhere. According to Cult Wines’ global index, Burgundy continued to climb in price, returning 30.3% year-to-date. The 2021 vintage was a slow one and quantities are scarce (down 50% to 80%), pushing further demand for back vintages.
Instead, Libby Burk, the wine director, and general manager of Common Thread, is looking to Aligote. “It’s a beautiful Burgundian varietal commonly overlooked next to its more prestigious and more profitable cousin Chardonnay. With prices rising quickly in Burgundy, Aligote tends to be more accessible and a much better value.”
Regan DeBenedetto, Spuntino Wine Bar’s Director of Operations, agrees. “For French white wine drinkers, Chablis and Sancerre have both become pricier and more difficult to acquire. People will be looking to lesser known and more affordable options like Aligote, Vouvray, and Pinot Blanc.”
A recent visit to Oregon had me looking in-country to get my white Burgundy fix — Chardonnays from makers like Nicolas Jay, Gran Moraine, and Walter Scott were wickedly good and far less offensive to my wallet.
Burk was equally as excited about Washington wine, touting the region's diversity and quality. As is Francis Kulaga, Certified Sommelier and General Manager/Beverage Director for Birch & Rye in San Francisco. “The region is so underappreciated and produces a lot of interesting, high-quality wines.”
Mom Juice Wines’ Kristin Taylor has found that she's also seen an uptick in interest in wines from Washington and Oregon — “specifically with Pinot Noir since it's the perfect wine for any weather and I believe this will continue to grow in 2023!”
MW Chris Cree, owner of Cree Wine Company, prefers Beaujolais. “Cru Beaujolais wines seem poised to become even hotter as well, with a wealth of great small growers, a big focus on organic and biodynamic farming, the prices of Burgundy from the Cote d'Or escalating, and the region finally coming out from under the ‘Nouveau’ shadow.” (Try any bottles from the region’s Gang of Four – LaPierre, Foillard, Breton, or Thevenet — or brand out and try Lapalu, Kewin Descombes, Yann Bertrand, or Domaine Chapel.)
Bill Cox, the wine director of Counter- in Charlotte is keen on Cabernet Franc, noting that it’s getting “hotter and hotter, both domestically and abroad. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is overplanted, winemakers have been replacing it with cab franc so that there’s more inventory. Consumers are realizing it’s a delicious wine with a good price point.”
“I have found a renewed appreciation for Syrah and its ability to express where it is grown,” says Troupe-Masi. “Cabernet Franc is a variety that is garnering some of the highest fruit prices here in California. Yet it still does not have a true home outside of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux.”
Rory O’Connell, the general manager and sommelier of Husk Nashville, is excited by the value Spain and Portugal are providing. “I think those regions are going to see more appreciation in the coming year. With the cost of everything increasing the value that these wines offer is second to none. I think a lot of people are looking for approachable, interesting, and lower-alcohol wines. Grenache is the grape to watch…great with food, adaptable to climate change, stylistically versatile, delicious!”
Cree finds “Portugal is getting a lot of attention. More and more small producers are upping their game and finding the US market and palate is open for business. The number of little-known regions and the hundreds of hard-to-pronounce and/or remember grape varieties is daunting, but in general people seem to be all in, asking me what I have from Portugal." Affordable is a key here too, with some truly great value to be had, and that may play well in 2023.”
“Looking ahead to 2023, I think people will drink more domestic wines from places like New York, Virginia, Texas, and Michigan,” says Chasity Cooper, wine writer, and entrepreneur. “ I think these wine regions have been growing for years, and I hope that wine lovers will venture to these places not only to explore their wines but also the food and the people.” She’s particularly excited about the new merlot, from Washington state, Sonoma County, and of course, right bank Bordeaux. “Despite the shade Merlot has been thrown over the years, I think it's time for the grape to shine.”
“Like art, fashion, music, and life in general, wine is cyclical,” says Peter Wassam, Wine Shop Manager at Compline Wine Shop in Napa. “I expect to see more people coming back to historically significant wine categories that haven't been ‘cool’ recently, like Sherry, Madeira, Bordeaux, and Rioja. All these areas are seeing an influx of talent and fresh ideas from you