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Two women on Wine: Wine forecast -- value and selection

A greater selection of affordably-priced wines

Posted: March 4, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

We are frequently asked, "What is going on in the world of wine?" or "What are the newest trends in wine?" Now that we're in the first quarter of the year, we have looked at how 2010 clocked in and what we can expect in 2011. We'll tell you that we're cautiously optimistic that 2011 will ring in better times, deliver more bang-for-the-buck, and offer wine lovers a greater selection of affordably-priced wines.

The recent recession has certainly left us with many lessons. Regarding the wine industry, the biggest of them is that value has superseded price in terms of wine purchasing. Many people have finally discovered (or rediscovered) that wine costing $25 can be just as good as wine costing $75. Price doesn't necessarily equate to quality. Fortunately, people have come to realize that there are many, many wines out there that are great wines under $25.

In spite of this new trend, there are still many wines that continue to be priced out of the reach of most consumers. In speaking with several wineries, they are working hard to promote their brand, price their product and deliver good quality at prices that consumers are demanding. Those without large budgets will work hard to create a grassroots groundswell of interest by tempting the taste buds of wine industry influencers, such as bloggers, wine geeks and boutique wine store owners.

We're happy to report that another big trend on the horizon is a newfound confidence in one's own palate. While ratings, scores and points are nice to have, we've always encouraged customers to realize that wine is mostly subjective, not objective. Discovering one's own palate is a very personal journey and not something that can be determined in a textbook-like fashion. It's important to understand that the best wines are the ones you like the most.

Tastings will become more prevalent, as will experimentation with new wine-growing regions and countries. We've always been committed to bringing new regions and varietals to our customers to expand their wine lifestyle. In that respect we expect vintners to go out more and meet customers in their own towns through tasting events, such as Vino 100's Meet the Winemaker series. This is a wonderful way to learn about wine straight from the winemaker or owner.

Imports are best positioned this year for delivering flavor and value. We've always been a fan of wines from Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Spain and South Africa. These countries continue to produce well-priced varietals and are expected to do well in the coming year.

So which wine varietals are expected to deliver value, flavor and sales this year? Surprisingly, Riesling is one of the top picks. We all seem to be on the same page with this prediction terming the varietal as "the single most food-friendly white wine." We have seen an uptick on Riesling sales and agree this varietal offers a broad range of styles.

Another varietal making an explosive move is Sauvignon Blanc. This tried and true white is no longer taking a back seat. We won't be surprised to see these crisp whites on more dinner tables as the temperature warms.

We also expect Oregon Pinot Gris, Argentine Torrontes, and Spanish Albarino to increase in popularity. These white varietals are nice alternatives to Chardonnay, deliver lots of fruit and flavor, and are delightful with a variety of foods.

On the red side, Spanish Tempranillo, Portugese blends, Argentine Malbecs, and Chilean Merlots will do very well this year, especially among people looking to expand their wine spectrum. These are distinctive, wonderful wines that offer great value, while being less widely known. Wines from up and coming regions in California such as Lodi, Clarksburg and Contra Costa continue to delight us with their juicy, ripe fruit profiles and certainly deliver on price.

Overall, we're excited to find new wines to introduce to our customers this year, while staying true to many labels that never waver in popularity. While it's true the recession brought about tumultuous change for both consumers and the world of wine, it is also true that the economic by-product will be greater selection and value on the shelves this year.
We're looking forward to a delicious 2011! Cheers !


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