I was having coffee with a friend of mine in the wine industry this morning, and we started talking about what the next "big thing" will be. Part of our job is to identify what will be popular in the next year or so, and make those items available to our customers, so they can make money off of them. I'm not really talking about what the uber-wine geeks want, but rather what the future trend will be for the typical person buying a bottle retail or a glass at a restaurant. In the early 90's, the trend was big, huge, buttery, high alcohol chardonnays. Then, merlot was the big thing. After that, Yeller Tail, and their bubble gummy shiraz hit the American conscience- everyone had to have it. That was followed by Pinot Noir. Some people say that this was because of "Sideways" hitting the movie theatres. I disagree. I think that pinot was on the upswing, and the movie just hit at the right time. Most recently, the hip things to order have been Malbec, which I still love and adore followed by wines from the 2007 vintage in the Rhone.
What will the next thing be? I don't know. The funny thing about each of these wines is that people started jumping on the bandwagon, resulting in a lot of really sub-par wines in the marketplace. For example, two years ago, it was really hard to find Pinot in the $15-$18 range at a retailer. Now, they are at 7-11. The same thing will happen with Malbec.
I would love to see people grab on to California syrah, there are some great examples out there. The same thing goes with zinfandel- they aren't all the fruit bombs of rocket fuel that were in the market a few years ago. Some people are saying wine from China. I think that's on the horizon, but not for 2010.
I just hope I learn what it's going to be before the next guy.