While some trends come and go in the blink of an eye, others (hard seltzer, anyone?) are here to stay. While some of us love changing with the times and drinking what’s in vogue, others aren’t so quick to sip what’s new. Luckily, one imbiber’s least favorite fad is another’s obsession. And for every half-empty glass of piquette, there’s an opportunity for a refill.
Two decades ago, the screw cap fought tooth and nail to overcome its trendy status. Today, however, such alternative closures are commonly accepted as an economical solution to ever-increasing packaging costs. The industry now trudges through murky waters when it comes to low- or zero-alcohol wines. While they provide options for consumers looking to cut down on their booze intakes, no- and low-ABV wines have yet to stand on solid ground among traditional winemakers and connoisseurs.
To find out which fads are on their way out, we asked 10 of the industry’s top professionals what they think are the worst trends in wine right now.
The Worst Trends in Wine Right Now:
- Hating on natural wine
- “Diet” wine
- Wine apps
- Low-carb and low-sugar wines
- Confusion about the term red blends
- Manufactured character in wine
- Clean wine
- Natural wine without a holistic approach
- Complicated corkscrews
- Wine professionals who don’t consider budget
Keep reading for the worst trends in wine right now!
“I think the way many are talking about natural wine ends up sounding like the record store employees in High Fidelity: judgmental and elitist. In my 20s, I drank hundreds of gallons of Hearty Burgundy from a jug. Was it flawed? Sure. Out of balance? Certainly. A little gross? I didn’t care. Natural wines are gateway bottles — the beginning of a journey of discovery and exploration, which is what loving wine is all about. As wine professionals, we should instead preach for the demystification and democratization of wine and stop sounding like an old person complaining about the kids’ music these days.” —Chris Horn, director of liquids, Heavy Restaurant Group, Seattle
“I hate the diet wine trend! Naturally, given what I do, I have a great appreciation for well-crafted wine, and to make a wine with the goal of keeping the calories down feels like blasphemy. I try to educate consumers about wines with higher or lower sugar or alcohol contents, and you can make a delicious, bone-dry, low-alcohol wine. Telling consumers that most wine is made in vats mixed with sugar and chemicals is seriously a scare tactic. What wine is made like that?? Also, marketing wine as paleo or keto is downright confusing. At the end of the day, wine has calories. It is made from sugar — yes, it is the sugar found in fresh grapes, but sugar has calories. If you want to lose weight, don’t drink alcohol. A diet wine won’t get you there.” —Emily Wines MS, vice president of wine & beverage experience, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Downers Grove, Ill.
“One of the more annoying trends that I’m finding these days is a reliance on wine apps. Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal! Having a quick-access library of what you’ve tasted ready to access on a whim is useful. That said, aggregate point scores, ‘Yelp-style’ slagging, and ranking percentages are doing a great disservice to many amazing producers. Many world-class wines get pushed aside by algorithms and suffer from incomplete tasting notes input by users. Be an adventurous wine lover, and keep discovering great new bottles — free from your screen.” —Andrew Forsyth, sommelier, L’Abattoir, Vancouver, B.C.
“One of the worst trends in wine right now to me is the whole low-carb, low- to zero-sugar wine movement and people believing that it is ‘natural’ or better for them. Wine naturally has sugar and carbs. To remove or change that is to make it even less natural. It’s like how we are all being forced to make cauliflower-crust everything instead of eating actual pizza dough. I feel sad that it’s turning into the same thing for our wine consumption. I am all for the ‘natural wine’ craze, but please do your homework, friends, on what that means. Or book a virtual wine tasting with me, and I will help you!” —Samantha Capaldi, wine consulting, Samantha Sommelier, Phoenix
“One can argue that all red wines are blends of some degree (a blend of different clones, blocks of grapes, different grapes, different vintages, different vineyards, etc.), so there is no novelty or true trend here. However, the term has stuck and is perceived as a trend among the general consumer. Historically speaking, red blends have existed for centuries. Regions like Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley have always been red blends by law (it is literally mandated). In the U.S., one could argue meritage was the U.S.’s first legally recognized red blend. Bottom line, red blends [are] a confusing trend as [they are] not novel, although [they do] represent a divergence from single-grape-labelled wines. Perhaps the silver lining to this trend is that it opens the door for consumers to taste more traditional red blend regions.” —Lindsay Pomeroy, Master of Wine; owner, Wine Smarties, San Diego
“I don’t appreciate the manufactured character in wine. The trend of finishing wines in wooden vessels previously used to age spirits (e.g., tequila or bourbon) is preposterous to me. Used barrels are great, as they provide micro-oxygenation, harmony in the mid-palate, and enhanced ageability for the finished wine. However, I strongly believe that wine should taste like wine, bourbon should taste like American oak and caramel, and tequila should taste deliciously vegetal and complex.” —Todd Lipman, wine director, Nantucket Wine & Food Festival; general manager, Puritan & Co., Cambridge, Mass.
“I hate those who talk about a clean wine being healthier than a competitor. It certainly isn’t going to suddenly alleviate your headaches (well, maybe the ones I get from hearing those making the claims), shave off unwanted pounds, or cure cancer. Good wine, made by competent, thoughtful vignerons, will help you and your loved ones connect. It might even grant us the ability to get over one of the most painful episodes the world has faced. Wine is fellowship. And fellowship is one thing we have sorely missed.” —William Davis, director of education, Wilson Daniels, Denver.
“A tendency that needs to change is the sudden addition of natural or amphora wines in a winery portfolio, especially in a region that might not necessarily suit that style of wine. One can be at an appointment tasting a range of conventional wines. Then, out of nowhere — bam! A rep offers the newest experimentations of natural or organic, zero-sulphur amphora wines. It feels like the winery is trying to fill a BIPOC diversity quota without really doing the work. I would like to see a more conscientious and focused effort around this category of wine that is holistic in approach and not just trying to fill and force the market.” —Christopher Sealy, wine director, Alo Restaurant and Arc of Flavours, Toronto
“There are many shapes and choices when it comes to wine openers. I go to my friend’s home, and they pull this drawer of wine openers out. They always look at me strangely when I have an odd look on my face. You only need one wine key for 95 percent of the wine you open. The ‘waiters friend’ or ‘waiters corkscrew’ is all you need. I can’t recommend it enough. If you are opening mature wine where the cork has become sensitive, you can use an Osso wine key. You don’t need anything else.” —Marcus Gausepohl, wine specialist, Houston Wine Merchant, Houston
“Recent increases in wine certifications have easily been more beneficial than not. However, I feel this increase directly correlates with consistently rising prices. This amounts to certified wine professionals not ensuring people are in their budget comfort zone. It’s not necessarily driven by greed but by an almost hyper-excitement about prestigious and often expensive products. Their explanation of certification often accompanies their singular and expensive recommendation. Maybe instead use that energy to ask, ‘What is your price range?’ or suggest, ‘Let me recommend a few wines that I think you will enjoy.’” —Ray Gumpert, sommelier, The Furloughed Four, New Orleans