ARTICLE: Through the Grapevine
We spoke to Mary Trease, Sales Director and Head Wine Buyer at Nottingham-based independent wine and spirit merchants, Weavers to discover the latest trends in the world of wine and get her recommendations for what to drink this festive season.
What are the key trends in wine at the minute?
Like any consumer product, wine is subject to shifting trends and fashions. Generally speaking, people have a broader repertoire than ever before, and are thinking carefully about what they’re drinking, looking for an experience and a sense of the occasion.
Wine trends can be difficult to predict but there’s been some significant changes developing this year which are set to continue into 2020.
- Return to the classics
While some unusual and esoteric wines have dominated recently, there is now a definitive swing back to rediscovering classic wines. We’re seeing a resurgence in classic burgundies and Italian wines with consumers re-familiarising themselves with historical estates which have made benchmark wines of consistent style and quality for centuries. Interestingly though, they are eager to also see what some of the smaller, boutique producers within these traditional regions have to offer.
- Alternative Sparkling
There has been huge growth in English wines over the last few years. We are seeing more and more customers following this trend, with some premium venues wanting to replace their house Champagne with a premium English sparkling wine. Nyetimber in West Sussex recently won Best International Sparkling Wine, the first time it’s been won by a vineyard and a female producer outside of Champagne.
- Low alcohol
Some wines, especially those from hotter climates such as Shiraz from Australia and the Argentinean Malbecs are on the high end of the ABV scale.
As consumers become more health conscious many have turned to lower-alcohol wines. While there are companies producing wines with some or all of the alcohol removed to achieve low abv, this process, on the whole, has yet to be perfected and often the taste of the wine suffers. My advice would be to try instead to find unadulterated wines which are naturally low in alcohol, or just drink less of the wines you love.
- Vegan wines
You may not consider the possibility of animal products appearing in a grape based drink, but over the years various fining agents have been used to clarify the wine following fermentation; from milk proteins (casein) and egg whites (albumin), to animal protein (gelatine) and fish protein (isinglass).
To respond to consumer demand, vegan-friendly wines are becoming more popular and wine makers are now using clay-based fining agents such as bentonite and in some cases charcoal, or even just allowing the wines to settle naturally.
Is wine a good investment?
This is a question we get asked a lot and unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer. Of all the wines made in the world, only a small percentage has proven the ability to appreciate in value. In general, these collectibles come from established producers with long track records in the best regions such as a first growth Bordeaux Estates or the top Burgundy Domaines, and thus tend to be relatively expensive to begin with.
Wine is a risky investment and there are numerous things that can jeopardise your returns, from a poor harvest to inadequate storage. If you’re thinking about investing make sure you do your homework and speak to an independent expert who can guide you on the best purchases.
Does wine get better with age? How long should I keep wine before I drink it?
People often make the mistake of thinking that all wine improves with age but this is not the case. Certain wines will mature and taste better over time under the right conditions but most wines are made to be enjoyed right away or at least within 12 months.
Wines go through phases and will have a window when they are at their peak. Therefore, if you jump the gun or if you wait too long, your wine may not be at its best. Take advice from a wine merchant or the producer on when is the best time to drink certain wines.
If you are planning to keep wine to mature the correct storage is vital. Important factors include temperature, exposure to light, and humidity. Wine also doesn’t like to travel so avoid moving it around.
Supermarkets have such good deals, why should I buy from a wine merchant?
Firstly, buying online or from a supermarket isn’t always as cheap as you think it is. It’s often easy to get sucked into online deals but when you stop and do a bit of research you realise the wine was over priced in the first place so you’re not actually getting a deal.
The wonderful thing about buying through a wine merchant is that we can help you step outside your comfort zone and introduce you to a vast array of fantastic wines that you may not have heard of before and certainly wouldn’t think to try. We can offer recommendations based on what you know you like and help you broaden your variety. At Weavers we are shipping direct from all over the world and this means we are extremely competitive with wines from the everyday drinking to the premium end.
I am passionate about supporting independent businesses; whether it is your wine merchant, the local baker, butcher, milkman or insurance company! The independents offer amazing service and quality, they employ local people and invest in the local community. Why support the big chains, many of whom take profits out of the country, when there are so many fantastic independent companies right on your doorstep.
So what will you be drinking this Christmas?
On Christmas Day we’ll definitely be celebrating with a glass or two of Alain des Arbres Carte Noire Champagne. It’s named after my Father so it’s a bit of a family tradition.
If you’re looking for a good everyday white wine I’d recommend a Plaimont Colombard Cotes De Gascogne (France) or an Oliver Zeter Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Fume (Germany), a good alternative to the New Zealand Sauvignons. For a red wine, I’d go with Smart Dog Syrah (Portugal).
For Christmas dinner, Valpolicella Classico Ripasso, Giuseppe Lonardi (Italy) goes perfectly with Turkey.
We always have a bottle of my Castle Gate Gin on the go, both the Castle Gate Classic Gin and Pink Gin, Strawberry and Lavender. It’s our own unique recipe which uses acorns I forage from Sherwood Forest in the distilling process. Makes a great Christmas gift too!
Weavers supply the most creative range of wines, spirits and liqueurs to private, corporate and trade customers throughout the Midlands and the UK. They also have a very successful Wine Club which is well worth joining. For more information and advice, visit www.weaverswines.com or call 0115 958 0922.