Trends in wine are a funny thing. We're all familiar with the biggest trend in recent years - everyone drinking bottom end Chardonnay from the supermarkets and suddenly no one touching it but drinking Pinot Grigio instead (though that's an old example and Pinot Grigio is now gradually on the way out itself). But who actually sets the trend? Well it's not the wine trade - although sometimes there is a bit of a trickle down effect from the trade to the public. The trend, in most cases, comes from the wine drinking public with the wine trade following in their footsteps to supply the styles of wine that they want.
What's interesting to me is what drives these trends. Even in these days of mass wine consumption it seems that wine retains a definite link with status in the eyes of the public. What wines you drink (and are seen to be drinking) is seen as a mark of status and/or culture even. And like most trends, people don't want to be seen to be doing the wrong thing because that's uncool (and worse, uncultured). Just look at how long it's taking Chardonnay, one of the world's best white grapes, to claw its way back from the pit that it was thrown into - simply because everyone had got bored with it and associated all of it wrongly with being cheap and uncool. And the same brush tarred virtually any bottle with the unfortunate grape's name on it - luckily allowing white Burgundy not to be included because the grape doesn't appear on the label. But actually, Pinot Grigio is hardly much different from bottom end Chardonnay - (except in taste). It's a cheap and basic variant of the Pinot Gris of Alsace, and it does the job, but, most importantly, it's not oaked. This set the trend for non oaked whites, though oaked reds are fine interestingly.
In more recent years the trend has been for a public brought up on the big flavours of the New World to move towards the Old World countries. This is much more true of whites rather than reds as rising Malbec sales will testify. Connected with this is the trend for lighter alcohol wines. And New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, popular for years, is beginning to be seen as 'over the top' with its full and fruity flavours. People now buy rosé on colour - no one will touch dark coloured rosés and most wine merchants no longer stock them as a result. People are spending more on light coloured, minerally examples from Provence than they ever did on dark coloured bottom end New World rosés. Minerality is the key word here - the public want crisp, clean unoaked whites and rosés - not big fat rich wines that have spent time in oak barrels. Hence the popularity of Albarino, Picpoul be Pinet, Gavi de Gavi and Gruner Veltliner - all minerally Chablis substitutes actually. The extraordinary current Prosecco boom probably came about because Cava (on offer at rock bottom prices in supermarkets) gradually became to be seen as uncool, Champagne was too expensive for everyday fizz and Prosecco fitted neatly into the gap. The trends for English wines (especially sparkling) and craft beers are easier to understand and these are two categories that will grow for fairly obvious reasons. Related in its Englishness is the popularity for Gin that has continued to rise in recent years. What's the next big trend going to be? Don't ask me - ask my customers!