Sommelier Roundtable: Your Wine Predictions for 2019

New Year, new wine trends! We asked 9 wine pros what regions, styles and philosophies will reign in 2019—and what fads they hope will die
Sommelier Roundtable: Your Wine Predictions for 2019
"Yes" to Puglia, Iberia and Jura. "No way" to rosé? (iStockPhoto)
Dec 14, 2018

When 2018 kicked off, we asked in-the-know wine pros what to expect for the year: more bubbles, more New Zealand, more Napa and, they hoped, better "natural" wine. The past 12 months have borne out many of their prognostications—but thrown some curveballs as well.

What's in store for 2019? Or rather, what should wine drinkers be paying attention to? We asked these nine sommeliers from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners to peer into their crystal ball–ware and tell us what they foresee—but they also wanted to tell us what they'd like to expel into the spit bucket of wine-fad history.

Wine Spectator: What's the biggest wine trend you predict for 2019? Or what would you most like to see (or see disappear)?

John Lancaster, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Boulevard in San Francisco

One of the wine trends I see coming next year is the oversupply of rosé—too much rosé out there; too much is getting made in California. Demand is increasing, but not at the rate of production.

The one thing that I would like to see go away—and I think it has started to already—is the proliferation of orange wines. I just have never quite understood the oxidized-white-wine thing outside of Sherry. So if those went away, it would be just fine with me.

Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Allora in Sacramento, Calif.

I think the biggest wine trend coming in 2019 is the rise and appreciation for the wines of Puglia and other not-so-popular Italian regions. I think the wines of Puglia are on the rise, especially since travel and vacation trends are increasing to the region. I think people want to see more from the countries they love, but maybe branch out and be a bit more adventurous with their selections.

A trend I am hoping to see disappear would be natural wines made just for the sake of being "natural." By that I mean, that is the sales pitch versus wines that just so happen to be natural, because they don’t need to do X, Y, and Z to still have freshness. I am all for minimal intervention with wines, if you have the terroir, grapes and hand to back it up.

Luciano De Riso, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Grand Old House in George Town, Cayman Islands

I believe that next year, we will see people looking to drink more mature wines and large-formats, as they are becoming more affordable and readily available.

I hope the Coravin trend goes away. Most wines are made with love, passion and tremendous hard work; when we open a bottle, we pay respect to that. Why do we need to steal a sip today or tomorrow with the Coravin?

Lenka Davis, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Barbareño in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Allowing some mental space for the proliferation of legal cannabis into our industry is crucial. As the drug sheds the social stigma, I foresee more experts in the cannabis field being more prominent and crossing paths with wine. The recent Constellation Brands investment in the cannabis industry proves just that.

My biggest desire is to one day see nutritional labels on wine bottles that would list the contents and all the additives so the consumers can make informed decisions. In the age of ubiquitous allergies, it is paramount that we can explore which components of the wines react with individual consumers.

Richard Hanauer, beverage director for Chicago-based RPM Restaurants, including two locations of Best of Award of Excellence winner RPM Italian and RPM Steak.

I think the Iberian Peninsula is ready to blow up. More fuller-bodied wines are now being sought out, and the two countries there, Spain and Portugal, produce some of the world's finest—and they produce them very differently, for that matter. While Spain is capitalizing on international varietals being delivered with ridiculous value, Portugal is staying true to its native varieties. Either way, both countries are making incredibly valued full-bodied wines that are great alternatives to similar New World renditions.

Tchotchkes [I'd like to see disappear]. I'd be happy if I never saw an engraved reverse-aerating decanter that connects to your Alexa. Wine inside the bottle is awesome on its own!

Cedric Nicaise, wine director at Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park in New York:

I’m pretty over “natural wine.” Not wine that is made using sustainable and environmentally viable methods. [Rather] I am hoping to see an end to the catchall category of “natural wine,” where the story is much better than what’s in the bottle. I don’t want to taste flawed wines because someone else thinks they are cool in 2019.

Carlin Karr, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo.

I think the Jura is really exciting again. Producers like Tissot and Domaine du Pélican are making better wines than ever before. I can’t get enough of their Chardonnays, and they offer a value-driven alternative to Burgundy. I also think we are going to see a lot more exciting, small, great producers from Chianti. Chianti Classico, in general, is getting better and better, and there are a ton of exciting new producers making 100-percent Sangiovese wines that are fresh, lively and utterly delicious.

Seán Gargano, wine director at Award of Excellence winner The Legal Eagle in Dublin, Ireland

I'm very impressed with unfortified Palomino from Andalucía. I think it could be the savior of Sanlúcar and Jerez as Sherry sales continue to decline. Unfortified Palomino makes a fantastic aperitif wine with smoked almonds but also works superbly with fish and grilled vegetables. My favorites are Callejuela Blanco de Hornillos and Ramiro Ibáñez's Cota 45. I sell Ramiro's UBE Miraflores, but I'm also crazy about UBE Maina when I can afford it.

Jeremiah Morehouse, wine director at Grand Award winner Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco

Wine trends can be tricky to predict. I would like to see people become more adventurous with their wine choices, expand out of the norm or the comfort zone, and trust us sommeliers to recommend tasty wines the same way they would trust any other specialist. Get off those phones and talk to us instead.

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