Welcome to 2023! We have a whole new year of wine-drinking ahead of us. Every year, there are countless predictions about what will happen in the year ahead. The ones that involve Elvis and Bigfoot are always my favorites … but what about wine predictions?
As with Bigfoot, there are a lot of outlandish predictions out there about wine, and trends in wine. However, here are some things I do believe we’ll be hearing a lot about as 2023 goes on.
Low/no alcohol wine: One trend picking up speed is wine with low-alcohol—or no alcohol. Wines are generally considered to be low-alcohol if they are below 10-12% alcohol by volume.
Many younger, health-conscious consumers looking for “healthier” wine. There are many ads for “low-sugar” wines that make the dubious claim that they are better for you—but it is true that alcohol-free and reduced-alcohol wines have fewer calories per glass.
Older wine-drinkers are seeking out these wines, too. Those in the AARP set—that’s people 50 years old and beyond, for you whippersnappers—still love their wine, but find that excessive alcohol can have negative health benefits that affect them more and more as they age. I know one senior wine-lover in their 80s who mixes their regular box wine with a no-alcohol wine, effectively cutting their alcohol consumption in half.
The Cupcake Light Hearted line is a good place to start with low-alcohol wines. The company makes three white wines, a rosé and a pinot noir, all around 8% ABV and 80 calories. If you’re looking for alcohol-free wines, consider brands like Fre Wines, Ariel, and Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling.
Natural/organic/biodynamic wines: Continuing with the theme of consumers looking for healthier wines, expect to see a lot of the terms natural, organic and biodynamic. While all of these terms involve how wine is produced, they all mean very different things. Here’s a quick, admittedly incomplete primer on each.
Natural: The term “natural,” when used with wine, has no legal definition. This means anyone can call their wine natural, regardless of how they produce their wine—so don’t be fooled by slick marketing. Generally, this term means the winemaker added nothing to the wine while producing it—no additives, no sulfur, no chemicals, no filtering and no added yeasts. The best of these wines are stunning and unique; the worst taste sour and dirty.
Organic: The term “organic” is regulated somewhat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If a wine is labeled “organic” in the United States, it means the wine-making process has to be organic—with no sulfites added—and the grapes have to be grown organically. If the wine says “made from organic grapes,” it means the grapes were grown organically, but sulfites may have been added during the winemaking process. Organic farming processes focus on what growers can’t apply—think additional chemicals—to the soil or the plants.
Biodynamics: “Biodynamic” refers to a regenerative farming process that focuses on enhancing and improving the entire farming ecosystem. Wines that use the term “biodynamic” on their labels must be certified by Demeter International. While it’s not a requirement, biodynamic wines are typically produced naturally or with low-intervention techniques.
I spoke to Levi Whittaker, the club and events director at Grafted Whiskey and Wine Bar in Rancharrah, about customer-buying trends.
“Our customers are looking for healthier wine options with less additives,” he said. “Many of them are ordering Italian and French wines due to the lack of additives in them that are often found in American wines.”
Whittaker said he’s a fan of truly natural wines.
“We have a select group of patrons who really know and love natural wines, and I hope we can educate more people to love them, too,” he said.
If you want to try some organic and biodynamic wines, consider bottles from Tablas Creek, Troon, and Bonterra.
Packaging: High-quality wines are now being delivered in alternative packaging—and this trend will continue to grow in 2023. These alternative packages include cans, kegs and bag-in-box packages.
The average wine-drinker today is less concerned about the perceived quality of the container, and more concerned about convenience—like less weight, more durability, and a longer life after being opened, when compared to a glass bottle with a cork. Boxed and canned wines are also much easier to take camping, skiing or to the beach.
There are advantages for the wine-producers, too: Lighter means less fuel used, lower costs and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.
Bigfoot and I both hope you take these predictions and help turn them into trends that can change how we drink wine for the better: In 2023, let’s drink wines that are better-tasting, better for us, and better for the environment!