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The consultant shares his insights/WINE2WINE

This year 2019 has been a benchmark year in terms of defining new trends for the wine and spirits business and their products. Millennials continue to try to think and drink healthy and clean. They are looking for low alcohol and no-alcohol alternatives, so hard seltzer has come on the radar fast and furiously.

Global warming is changing the wine production map as we know it: some of the best sparkling wines are being produced in the Southern United Kingdom. Rosé remains hot and great value wines are popping up in both South Africa and Portugal.

So I had an in-depth chat with Paul Mabray, the CEO of the Napa-based—a consumer insight service for the wine industry—who shared some of his perspective on what has happened in the wine in spirits industry over the last year.

All responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Liza B. Zimmerman (LBZ): Why are hard seltzers so popular?

LBZ: What types of grape varietals are hot and why?

I think we are going to see more and more blends emerging over the next few years. The lower tier (of wine producers) understands that non-appellated wine sells and they can create wines that meet consumers’ expectations. This has also been true for even higher-priced wines, such as The Prisoner.

LBZ: How is global warming changing the wine production map?

PM: Without question, it has become harder to make traditional styles of wine in known regions. At the same time it allows new regions to emerge: such as English sparkling wine.

The wine industry is in touch with is the land and it is really embracing climate change so it will look hard to find the answers about new ways make new ways to grow traditional grapes or adopt new varieties. It’s both an exciting and scary time.

LBZ: Are consumers spending more or less on wine and why?

PM: There is no question we are still in an era of premiumization, although it is slowing and is susceptible to a recession. The question is where is the new floor for “fine wine,” as well as where is the median and where is the top.

LBZ: What is happening with rosé? Up, down or out of play?

Two glasses of rose wine on a wooden table in sunlight top view with a garden bench in the background


PM: Rosé wine has flooded the market and is experiencing an implosion with some brands. Fundamentally, it is now a permanent category in the U.S. market.

LBZ: Will the current focus on natural wines last?

PM: It will continue as long as wine writers give the category disproportionate amounts of attention versus actual consumer interest.

LBZ: Will vegan wines ever become a trend?

PM: We don’t see it in the numbers. Not that there isn’t a market, just that it’s a rounding error.

LBZ: How does the auction market affect day-to-day wine consumption?

People fill the Crystal Cellar at Raymond Vineyards attending the barrel auction event of Auction Napa Valley. Photocredit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

PM: Only by setting higher prices for specialty, fine wines.

LBZ: How are artificial reality and artificial intelligence affecting the wine and spirits retail market and tasting experience?

PM: Artificial reality is seeing large adoption here but not enough usage to turn it from novelty into long-term customer relationships and engagement. It is still the most exciting POP [point of purchase] tool that we’ve seen in decades and I expect to see a lot of innovation in this area.

There are so many new uses of artificial intelligence (AI) that can help in predicting sales trends and analyzing flavor profiles, for the consumer profile emerging in 2019/2020. So many of the larger producers and retailers that are using AI to understand the market are likely to have more interesting and precise offerings and approaches to the market.

Source: The Latest Drinks Trends