It is the day before Hogmanay 2009, and I just realised that we are about of a new decade! The last time that happened, everyone was getting excited at the year 2000 approaching, and the Champagne world was figuring out absurd marketing ploys to extract the money from people’s pockets and into their own.
And as this next decade creeps in, with nobody really paying any intention, this is what I think is going to happen over the next ten years in the wine world.
The emergence of Portuguese wine will not happen
Firstly, I love Portuguese wine, wine critics love Portuguese wine, and everyone is saying that Portuguese wine is ‘the next big thing’, but it isn’t going to be! Why? Because it is no longer offering the value for money that it once did. The Euro is too strong against the pound, there is precious little decent entry level wine available and without that, selling Portuguese wine, or any other emerging wine country's wine, is like trying to wean a baby off breast milk with whisky. It simply will not happen! (it should be noted that if the Euro tanks in value, I reserve the right to alter my opinion!)
James Bond will switch to Dom Perignon
Bollinger’s position as James Bond’s champagne of choice (aka expensive product placement) is not true to the Ian Fleming books, and it is in Moet & Chandon’s interests to get their prestige cuvee being consumed by Daniel Craig as soon as possible, as it would give them massive publicity for this champagne, which it needs due to the growing public awareness of it’s main rivals.
Gary Vaynerchuk will overtake Parker
Already established in America as ‘the working man’s Robert Parker’, Vaynerchuk’s entertaining style of wine critique is making roads into Britain. The fact that he doesn’t restrict himself to fine wine makes him instantly accessible to the masses, and his youth gives him a long term staying power, and his mupper-esque manner make him entertaining and a joy to watch. The only thing that can stop Vaynerchuk becoming the number 1 wine critic in the world is Vaynerchuk! His other interests and his entrepreneurial talent could divert his attention away from wine, and this could stop his rise to the top.
Alcohol will become the new tobacco
It is already happening, but alcohol is rapidly becoming as vilified as tobacco, and within the next decade, there will be extensive legislation put in place to curb alcohol misuse. Government health warnings and pictures of rotting livers will be plastered all over bottles (it is going to look great on Petrus bottles!), advertising bans will come into force and don’t be surprised if the drinking age goes up either.
English wine will improve & 16% will become the norm
Still seen as a bit of a cottage industry by some and a joke by many, England’s vineyards are improving year on year, and, should Europe warm up, as all the environmentalists believe it will, the UK could see warmer summers, and colder winters and, maybe, that magical 100 days of sunshine needed will become a reality. Also, it the world keeps heating up, we could see 16% abv becoming the norm in certain areas of Australia and maybe even France. Then it will be down to the skill of the winemaker to mask the horrific levels of alcohol.
The bubble will burst
The fine wine market has to crash! As more and more people ‘invest’ in wine, fewer people are drinking fine wine and therefore there is far too much top end wine still around. We are already seeing some fine wine merchants clearing stock from non-great vintages at ridiculous prices, and it is only a matter of time until 2005 starts being discounted. Once this happens, the rest will follow suit and it is time to fill your boots!
Port will become the next Bordeaux
Although I think that Portuguese wine will not become the next big thing, I think Vintage Port will take off as the new wine obsession in the far east, and prices will climb because of it. Fortunately, the great 2007 vintage hasn’t been hiked up in price, but I think that the next declared year will be as the rich, sweet style will appeal to the Japanese and Chinese markets and they will buy everything and the prices will become astronomically high.
It’s wine writing Jim, but not as we know it…
With more and more online wine writing, and with newspapers seeing their readership dwindle, there is more and more pressure to cut costs when it comes to specialist writers. In the next decade, wine critics are going to be cut from Saturday or Sunday supplements, and they are going to have to find gainful employment through online writing. The problem with this is that they are going to have to rely upon advertising revenue to earn their living, and this will pose ethical questions regarding their impartiality. Subscription websites are going to be hit too, due to the huge amounts of decent wine blogs (of which I hope you consider this to be one!) providing advice for free. There is the counter argument that the huge number of blogs makes it difficult and time consuming for the consumer to find sage advice, a simple directory of reputable websites would address that matter.
Nothing will change in the whisky world
Scotch whisky will continue to be a drink consumed by old men. The industry is so set in it’s tartan clad ways that they refuse to accept any new ideas or take a risk with a revolutionary advertising campaign to attract younger drinkers. In ten years from now, we will see fewer active distilleries, increased prices and shortages of supply on certain products – exactly what we have been seeing for the past decade.
The return of the RTD
Long gone are brands such as Hooch and Metz, but the ‘Ready to Drink’ or RTD market is growing again. With companies such as Jack Daniels, Smirnoff and Gordons appearing in can form on supermarket shelves, these RTD’s offer slightly more sophisticated pre-mixed drinks without the neon colours and fake fruit flavours of the more traditional alcopops. To further this, we are seeing brands like Crabbies producing alcoholic ginger beer, so it is entirely feasible that other companies will follow suit. Alcoholic Red Bull anyone?!
Taxes on alcohol will go up
This will guarantee that I get one thing right!