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2018 Predictions: Boat Christening Is the New Sabering, Wine Robots Learn to Love

What does 2018 have in store for drinks in pop culture? We predict wine movie sequels, a subway perk to ease your miserable commute, a surprise Nobel Prize winner and more
Photo by: Sandra Mu/Getty Images
"Pop bottles" takes on a new meaning in 2018. Former New Zealand PM Helen Clark shows how it's done.

Posted: January 5, 2018

Hard to believe it, but it’s been one year—as opposed to, say, 10—since Unfiltered made our bold wine predictions for 2017 last January. At the time, we imagined the excitement in the wine world would unfold with TV shows like the Walking Dead and Orange Is the New Black spinning off their own labels, sommeliers getting caught up in the Pokémon Go (or rather PokéSomm Go) craze, and John Oliver putting American wine in his comedic crosshairs. It would’ve been a nice year, what we had planned out.

Still, 2017 wasn't all woe in wine—we did, after all, see our favorite shows catch the wine bug, from Master of None to the Super Bowl and even, yes, the Walking Dead. So once again we peer into the notoriously cloudy Unfiltered crystal ball to divine what 2018 will bring. Join us on our journey, won’t you, and get the Unfiltered newsletter delivered straight to your inbox on alternating Fridays—all the latest scoop on drinks in sports, movies, music, politics, art, crime and more!


Trend Alert: Boat Christening Is the New Sabering, Somms Declare

Remember sabering, the act of sliding a blade along the seam of a sparkling-wine bottle in the hopes of popping the cork, leaving a totally-safe jagged glass rim to serve your wine from? It was all the (sab)rage, but no more: In 2018, sabering will be as passé as rosé.

Last year, the new ship U.S.S. Billings splashed her way into the world and our hearts not only with a boatload of displaced seawater, but also the bubbly mousse of a Barefoot Moscato across her hull. It attracted attention, which in turn attracted sommeliers. In 2018, wine’s chic set will bring this boat-bottle-breaking trend to restaurant tables across the land.

Sure, you can still order a bottle of bubbly in a restaurant and let your server sommsplain the wine's life story to you before getting up on the bar to saber it in front of a crowd of jaded patrons. But for just $500 more (a modest "christenage fee"), your sommelier will Lyft you to the nearest port and whack your prized wine bottle against the boat of your choice. And then, sit back and watch the tidal wave of "likes" flow in.


Like All Other Movies, Wine Movies to Be at Least Trilogies Now

2017 was the year we finally ran out of not only stories to make movies about but even sequels to those stories, so we now get such triquels, quatrels and beyond as Pirates of the Caribbean: 5, Star Wars 3: 2 and Avengers: Infinity. Wine movies will be no different in 2018. Follow the A Year in … series as its filmmakers journey to the vat rooms, warehouses and distribution centers where workers ply their humble reverse osmosis filters in A Year in the Central Coast, before deciding just to run back the tried and true in A Year in Burgundy spin-off 2 Years 2 Burgundy.

Obviously, Sideways is due for its obligatory "needless remake of a relatively recent movie in a crass ploy to cash in on Millennial nostalgia" treatment. Viewers can relive their favorite scenes updated for 2018, like when Miles (played by The Rock) embarrasses Jack (Ed Sheeran) by sloppily guzzling a whole solera of Manzanilla in a fit of pique. And who will be able to forget his instant-classic line, "I am not drinking any bleeping sulfur added!"

Finally, after Somm and Somm: Into the Bottle, Somm: Into the Business will follow the boys in their newfound lives as Master Sommeliers. Sure, they can name all the A.O.C.s of Belgium and the full results of the famed 1995 "Judgment of Alberta," but can they hack it in their new roles as brand ambassadors, influencers and social media consultants?


Forced to Compete with Boozy New Ferries, NYC Subways Start Offering Wine

It was not the embattled New York City subway's year in 2017 (or any year since 1904). But in 2018, this will all turn around.

During his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will take full responsibility for the failings of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and vow to give it the fix residents have long been waiting for. Will he repair the signaling system, which currently fails at the slightest brush with trash? Will he make the trains run on time? Run at all?

Reader, come on; we try to at least keep these predictions grounded in lived reality. However, after seeing the success of his rival Mayor Bill de Blasio's new ferries, which jet around the city offering passengers wine, beer and snacks onboard—Cuomo knew he had to do something to win the transit battle (and cruise to reelection in November).

Michael Appleton | Mayoral Photo Office
Pictured: happy commuters not on the NYC subway.

Starting in February, the MTA will offer a cheeky selection to commuters who are always in the mood for fun transit jokes: the wines of Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford. They will be available for a very reasonable $2.75 a glass, or a $121 "unlimited pass" for riders who wish to drink away their commute every day of the month.


Winecriminals Sentenced to 'Escape the Room'

Escape games were hotter than ever in 2017, with people paying actual money to be locked in a room and forced to work with others to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in order to, you know, escape the room before time runs out. The wine industry even got in on the action, with wineries all over the world locking visitors in cellars and putting vinous twists on the challenges.

With the winecriminal prison population swelling in 2017, incarceration experts will finally recognize the true potential of this fad by introducing a new nationwide "Escape the Cell(ar)" winecrime redemption program. Vandals, thieves and counterfeiters who menaced wine society will be sentenced to puzzle-filled lockups for a chance at redemption/freedom. If they discover the clues and unlock the cellar door in under an hour, they earn it. If not, well, they'll have to age with their cellarmates awhile longer.


José Andrés Completes Coveted Culinary Trifecta, Defeating Bobby Flay to Win Nobel Prize

A successful culinary empire, famous friends and apparently a heart of gold: What's left for José Andrés to claim? This year, the outspoken, philanthropic chef will be recognized for his advocacy and relief efforts in post-Maria Puerto Rico, a wildfire-stricken Los Angeles and the depths of the Twitterverse to complete the coveted culinary trifecta: Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence, Iron Chef America victory over Bobby Flay and, in 2018, last but not least … the Nobel Peace Prize, probably also over Bobby Flay.

For his acceptance speech, Andrés will likely arrive late, having just flown in from whatever part of the world he's saving next, crack a few jokes and lay down some truth bombs about the state of the world, as longtime Wine Experience Chefs' Challenge companion and fellow humanitarian/chef without borders Emeril Lagasse proudly watches from the wings.


Wine Robots Learn to Love, Break Human Hearts

Popular series Black Mirror depicts a not-so-distant future that blurs the lines in the uneasy relationship between man and machine, so it was only a matter of time before the show based an episode on the life of Ted, the robot designed to help out in the vineyard at Bordeaux's Château Clerc Milon. As Ted masters such human tasks as weeding and pruning, he will slowly be awakened to the delicate steps of the human dance, learning to be a good listener, pick out the perfect birthday wine and send just the right emoji in text messages. Inevitably, some lovelorn (human) sap will fall for Ted's tender ministrations and, ultimately, end up doing something crazy to get noticed.

Mathieu Anglada - Saison d'Or
The love that dares not beep boop beep its name

But alas the illicit love can never be, for Ted has already found a kindred soul in VineScout, a cute lil gizmo who shares his one true passion: Vitis vinifera plants.


New 'Bachelor' to Court Paramours in 'the Musigny on I-70,' Indianapolis Wine Country

ABC
Rachel might be developing a crush—but is Peter treading too lightly?

Bachelor(ette) fans in 2017 followed Rachel Lindsay all the way to Rioja to find The One, but in 2018, Bachelor Arie Luyendyk, Jr. will take his suitors down a path more familiar to him as a onetime race-car driver: to the Chambourcin-rich hills of Indianapolis wine country. First challenge: salve his heart from its wreckage at the hands of Season 8's Emily Maynard by inviting contestants to find a wine that best pairs with Emily's … astringent personality. The winner will score a date with Arie at one of the state's premium wineries—perhaps even Misbeehavin Meads ….


As Drinking Window on Life as We Know It Shuts Forever, Why Not Throw a Cellar Depletion Party?

In 2018, the fury of a vengeful Gaia and the folly of man will rain destruction and chaos upon a once-proud nation, as our monuments crumble to dust and our cities topple into the sea—and you know what that means: more quality time in your wine cellar! Wish you had taken a few more trips down to pick out your perfectly aging bottles in 2017? Good news: As the bomb cyclones inflict misery across the land and the Great Upheaval shows up at your doorstep, you'll find no comfier place to cower than your home wine vault with its handy stability-controlled racks protecting against the earth's convulsions as they swallow civilization around you.

To be sure, that bottle of '85 Sassicaia you're cradling in a permanent crouch of abject fear may promote a healthy heart, but it can't save you from the incurable supervirus loosed on a desperate populace by rogue CDC agents, or the fallout when the Pentagon's top-secret "weaponized bees" program goes horribly awry. And it will be a cold comfort indeed, that bottle of '96 Dom you cling to in your pitiable wine hole, when the Six Runes of Hades align in the Ancient Chamber of Belshazzar, unlocking the Portal to the Infernal Abyss! Just don't make that rookie collector mistake of waiting for a special occasion to drink those favorite bottles—they won't let you take them to the reeducation center.


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