The future of wine: trend predictions from the experts

New amphora at Clos du Caillou in Châteauneuf-du-Pape


In the 1990s, we drank Aussie Chardonnay. In the 2000s, it was Pinot Grigio. The 2010s have been mostly pink or sparkling. So what’s next? I’ve spoken to some wine industry trendsetters to build a picture of what we might be drinking in the 2020s.

Bubbling up

At the start of the 2010s, we suddenly realised that we didn’t need a special occasion to drink sparkling wine. Who knows what caused it, but there’s no going back. February saw the opening of Prosecco House near Tower Bridge, London’s first bar dedicated to the ubiquitous Italian sparkling wine. Will we look back and realise this was peak Prosecco?

As more and more chancers jump on the Prosecco bandwagon, good quality bottles are getting harder to find; the cheapest supermarket stuff just tastes like sherbet lemons. Cava is waiting patiently on the bench, and it’s only a matter of time until we switch allegiance. Prosecco is fermented in large tanks, but Cava uses the more delicate Champagne method resulting in a richer flavour. It’s more reliably dry and often better value. The time is ripe for rediscovery.

On the other hand, Mark Andrew MW, founder and editor of Noble Rot restaurant and magazine, puts his money on English sparkling, which he predicts “will continue to gain worldwide recognition and the best estates will increasingly come to resemble the major Champagne houses in their marketing.”

New horizons

Charlie Young, owner of Vinoteca wine bars, agrees that England will be one of the more successful wine producing countries of the 2020s, and not just for sparkling wines – still wines too. He admits they can be pricey for now, but he predicts quality will improve and prices will come down “as the public’s appetite for home-grown wine increases.” He tips Greek wine too, where he’s noticed “more consistently high-quality wines across different price points.”

The regions that flourish and those that wilt could well be connected to climate change. Jack Green at wine importer Roberson says “I genuinely believe that climate change will have a massive impact over the next 10 years. We’ve had forest fires wiping out acres of vineyards in California and Spain. We’ve seen unusually late frosts wiping out 40% of French vineyards… Something has to change!”

If temperatures continue to rise, the hottest wine regions could become inhospitable to vines – goodbye Barossa Shiraz. Conversely, cool climate areas will thrive. Expect to see exciting wines coming out of cooler European countries such as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, and northerly US states such as Vermont.

Andrew at Noble Rot backs the emerging Chinese wine industry: “China could be the world’s biggest wine producer within ten years and will become the source of juice for a new set of global commercial wine brands.”

Wholesome alternatives

Organic, biodynamic and Natural wines represent a small but growing proportion of wine produced around the globe. Even supermarkets such as Aldi now have permanent listings for organic Pinot Grigio and organic Prosecco. Andrew thinks we might even see some local governments legislating to make sustainable and organic methods mandatory, but also raises the spectre of genetically modified grapes. “I have a feeling they might play a big role by the end of the 2020s if climate change continues apace,” he says.

Opinions on alcohol levels vary. Matt Harris, owner of Planet of the Grapes wine bars, predicts “more winemakers perfecting the art of lower alcohol wines. Beaujolais at 10% ABV, Moscato and Brachetto rather than Prosecco, and people falling in love with German Riesling all over again.” There are dissenting voices however; Stephen Finch, managing director of Vagabond wine hang-outs, predicts that “people will stop fussing over alcohol levels in wine. It’s wine, people. It has alcohol in it. If you want low ABV wine, try Fruit Shoot. It’ll be better.”

New forms

Lydia Worsey is wine category manager for Mitchells & Butlers, owner of mass-market restaurant and bar brands such as All Bar One and O’Neills, and she too expects to see an increase in organic, biodynamic and Natural wines on wine lists by the 2020s. To this, she would add alcohol-free, low calorie, low sugar and “wine in keg as the serve norm.”

Alternatives to glass bottles are gaining ground. Green at Roberson agrees that bag-in-box, cans and plastic PET bottles are all due a resurgence, and as the quality of what’s put inside them rises, I’m sure that some of these will catch on. Shipping individual heavy glass bottles stoppered with bits of wood half way across the world really doesn’t feel like the future, and it’s certainly not the most eco-friendly option. And anyway, your robot butler might find corkscrews a bit fiddly.

Eight wines to drink now for a taste of the future…

Bubbling up

Gramona La Cuvée Gran Reserva Brut 2012 (Penedès, Spain)

Biodynamic. One of the greatest cava producers, this is characterful, authentic and delicious. Walks all over supermarket Champagnes at this price. £23.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd

Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2013 (Sussex, England)

One of England’s finest, this has richness and depth not found in its peers. Luxuriously textured with a keen, dry finish. £32.95, Lea & Sandeman

New horizons

Domaines Vinsmoselle Pinot Blanc 2014 (Moselle, Luxembourg)

Slightly off-dry white with subtle aromas of pear and apple. Great purity, and a refreshing mineral edge. £14.50, Vinoteca

Château Changyu Moser XV Moser Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Ningxia, China)

A balanced and lively Cabernet Sauvignon of real elegance. Not overworked, deliciously drinkable, remarkably successful. £29.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd

Wholesome alternatives

Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon ‘Le Clachet’ 2016 (Beaujolais, France)

Nourishing red from a legendary Natural winemaker. Beautifully made; relaxed and carefree drinking. £18.00, Roberson

Domaine du Landreau Jus de Raisin Pétillant NV (Loire, France)

Top Chenin Blanc grape juice from a serious grower – just not fermented. Thirst-quenching fizz. £9.00, Red Squirrel

New forms

Les Dauphins Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2016 2.25l bag-in-box (Rhône, France)

Classic Rhône, fruity but firm, in a great vintage – and amazing value. £22.99 (£7.66 a bottle equivalent), Waitrose Cellar

Le Grappin Côtes-du-Rhône Syrah Grenache 2016 1.5l Bagnum (Rhône, France)

A magnum in an airtight bag. A crisp, refreshing Rhône blend from a talented winemaking couple from south London. £27.50 (£13.75 a bottle equivalent), Weino BiB

First published in Foodism magazine.