Though wine is a subjective subject, with no two palates the same, there are some grapes and styles on which we agree. What starts as a fad can prove hard to shake, think Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. To predict what we will be guzzling in the future is tricky, so we usually have to build on what we are already seeing. Here are my predictions for the year ahead…
Our nation has always had a thirst for bubbles – nothing new there – but what we are seeing now, is an enthusiasm to try other styles of fizz, particularly when it comes to sparkling red. With its ‘drink-me-now’ style and promise of fun times ahead, Aussie Sparkling Shiraz is already proving a bit of a favourite amongst the Fizzarati. Made in the same way as Champagne, and with all the cassis and chocolate we’ve come to expect, but now in a bubbly form, what’s not to love?
Lambrusco is the reboot of a once reviled, cloyingly sweet relic of the ‘70s. This comeback kid has morphed into a dry and sparkling delight, with all its original fruity charm but now with a bitter cherry sophistication. Top restaurants have adorned their lists with this chap, as it pairs well with tricky flavours and proves popular with diners.
A notch down on the colour spectrum, and one that hasn’t until now been associated with wine, is orange; these are white wines made in the same way as reds. The skins are left in contact with the juice, producing wines that are spicier with more body and tannins, and deep orange in colour. Consumed in much the same surroundings as rosé, expect to see orange wines multiplying on our shelves and on our favourite wine lists this year.
English wines, and not just sparkling, are poised to play an increasingly major role in our lives. While food becomes more about provenance, the idea of ‘keeping it local’ also extends to the wine world. As climate change increasingly becomes a factor, surveys reckon that in years to come we’ll be able to grow Riesling and Pinot Noir as far north as the Scottish borders. For now though, the power-counties for English wine include Sussex, Kent and Hampshire.
Dry whites from traditionally red-heavy areas like Bordeaux, the Rhône and Rioja are gaining popularity, as they should. With looser laws on what these regions can now grow and how their wines are aged, white Rioja no longer has to be fashioned out of a reclaimed oak beam by a medieval carpenter.
Conversely, areas famed for white wines are now seeing traction on their reds. Loire, the land of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé is coming over all flushed. Its reds are produced mainly from Cabernet Franc, a fragrant grape related to Cabernet Sauvignon only with a more coquettish, feminine side. Characterised by their earthy elegance, Loire reds are designed to be fridge-chilled before quaffing.
Presenter and author Rob Buckhaven is passionate about food and drink. He appears regularly as a wine expert on TV, and as a newspaper and magazine columnist. He is a brand ambassador for Rathfinny Estate and can also be found hosting shows across the country, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Follow him on Twitter at @robbuckhaven
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