2023 is upon us, and with it, new and continuing trends in the wine world. Nearly three years since the start of the pandemic, and the wine industry continues to search for new ways to meet consumer needs. Younger and more adventurous drinkers are on the hunt for the new and the unfamiliar and continue to demand more sustainable business practices. No- and low-alcohol wines are expected to continue to see growth even after the conclusion of Dry January, and sparkling wines are more and more becoming appropriate for everyday drinking. Let’s take a closer look at some of the wine trends we can expect to see in 2023.
Experimental and Extraordinary Grapes
Climate change and natural disasters have forced grape growers to think outside the box when it comes to viticultural practices, motivating winemakers to consider new grapes that can better respond to the changing climate.
Winemakers are upholding the traditional notion of appreciating where grapes come from while debunking the idea that only vitis vinifera grapes can produce quality wine. The use of hybrid grapes—European species crossed with native North American varieties— and American grapes are producing crops that often better handle local weather challenges, provide more reliability during unprecedented changes and best represent regional culture.
The Continuation of Sustainable and Ethical Winemaking
Younger generations of wine drinkers are demanding better treatment of the environment and supporting winemakers committed to sustainable practices. Of course, this includes organic and biodynamic winemaking, but it’s also about larger business practices involving labor concerns and even building materials.
“The wine industry has an internal reckoning coming,” says Remy Drabkin, winemaker and owner of Remy Wines. Water use, material disposal and harmful building materials are just a few of the issues the industry is dealing with, according to Drabkin.
“We have to innovate,” argues Drabkin. “I was grateful to be involved in a partnership last year that resulted in the creation of the world’s first carbon-neutral concrete formula, the Drabkin-Mead Formulation, which actually sequesters carbon in its creation. It’s important to us to ensure the Formulation remains open source so that builders across industries and geography can utilize it.”
For Drabkin, true sustainability goes farther than just the physical aspects of winemaking and also encompasses ethical business and building practices, equitable resource management and diverse community perspectives.
“Wineries that invest in diversity, equity and inclusion will see returns on those investments, and those who don’t prioritize and fail to understand how cultural competency affects our economy will… ultimately affect things like workplace health and safety as well as limiting consumer potential.”
Meeting Fluid Consumer Tastes for Low- and No-Alcohol Wines
One big trend that progressive wine organizations are taking advantage of is the fluidity of consumers’ identities when it comes to what they consume. American drinking culture has long been identified by overindulgence, a perspective in contrast with those who abstain from drinking altogether. But as food and drink education becomes more and more accessible, more Americans are learning that drinking is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon but instead a component of a more fluid and evolving cultural identity.
“I didn’t drink when I was pregnant,” says Abria Green of Telesomm, “And afterward, I drank mostly low-ABV wine for a long time.” As an important figure in various wine organizations, Green didn’t see these drinking practices as permanent aspects of her identity but more so as flexible elements of her constantly shifting lifestyle.
Low-ABV wine is a prominent trend I see quickly gaining even more traction in 2023. In my local community in Atlanta, food and drink hot spots are promoting new drinks with lower alcohol content, and zero-alcohol bottle shops and tasting bars are opening up all over the city.
During my own dry December tradition, I visited Atlanta’s first zero-proof bottle shop, The Zero Co. With all of the dealcoholized wine, zero-proof spirits and herbal canned drink options available, shops like this draw in consumers who are exploring low- or-zero-alcohol lifestyles.
Enjoying Sparkling Wine Outside of Special Occasions
Last year already saw a rise in sparkling wine sales, and that momentum doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Champagne, Cava and Prosecco hasn’t lost any of its appeal, but consumers are also popping sometimes less-expensive bottles of Crémant, Franciocorta and Lambrusco. Pét-nat, a bubbly wine made with only one fermentation as opposed to Champagne’s two, can often be less expensive and continues to attract natural wine drinkers looking for bubbly with a bit of funk.