Wine trends in the 2010s: Looking back

wine trends 2010s
How was it for you? We look back at the 2010s.

A decade is no time at all in wine and everyone will have their own perspective on the 2010s, but we’d argue that the last 10 years have been pretty eventful.

We’ve seen vintages lauded as greats, such as California Cabernet in 2013, Northern Rhône in 2015, Southern Rhône in 2016 and a wealth of top wines from 2010 itself, from Bordeaux to Rioja and Barolo to Barossa – to name just a few.

There is currently much excitement around Champagne’s class of 2018, and the same goes for English sparkling wine, while anticipation for Burgundy 2019 recently drove up prices at the Hospices de Beaune auction.

But there have also been tough lows, and not least from the intensity of extreme weather, such as wildfires, hailstorms, frost and drought, which have heightened anxiety about climate change and tension over resource use.

Prosecco and rosé wines have stormed the stage in the 2010s, and not just because they look good on Instagram – which incidentally only entered our lives as winemakers across the northern hemisphere picked grapes for the 2010 vintage.

Many will view the stepping-back and subsequent retirement of Robert Parker Jr as a major moment, but other readers might identify the decade more readily with the rise of ‘natural wines’.

There have also been high-profile news stories, from the historic fine wine fraud conviction against Rudy Kurniawan to Brexit and, as it stands, arguably the most uncertain period for global trade policy in a generation or more.

At Decanter we’ve received roughly one press release every 30 minutes on what millennials really think about wine, or so it seems.

Concepts of restraint, precision and a granular focus on plot-by-plot vineyard management have arguably become more entrenched in winemaking philosophy in the last decade, backed by analytical technology, including drones.

Oak is hardly over, but has continued to become a more subtle influence and we have seen experimentation with different vessels, from concrete eggs to Georgian-style qvevri – which formed part of a UNESCO listing for Georgian wine.

Here are a few other key themes that we’d pick out, with the environment playing a large role.

US vs China

There’s a case for the 2010s being an American story, after the US began the decade by becoming the world’s biggest wine consuming nation.

It has held this position ever since, according to figures from the Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV). Growth in recent years has come from premium wines, classed by Silicon Valley Bank as above $10 per bottle at retail.

But then developments in China have also been fascinating to watch.

Many winemakers now know their WeChat from their Whatsapp, while Moët Hennessy and the owner of Lafite Rothschild are both making wine in different parts of China – which is quite a statement. See our exclusive articles on Ao Yun and Long Dai winery respectively.

Learning about wine

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust said this year that record numbers of students were signing up to its courses around the world.

Anyone who remembers Hugh Johnson’s ‘how to’ video series from the 1980s will know that removing the mystery from wine is not a new pursuit.

Yet, the WSET figures show growing interest. And we’ve seen wine education material amplified by digital media, in particular, in the 2010s.

Wine publications old and new, plus individual sommeliers and enthusiasts, have created a flurry of articles, podcasts and videos on everything from reading a restaurant list to knowing how wines age or decoding what that tasting note is actually talking about.

Social media has been a big part of the conversation in the 2010s. Fittingly, both Christmas and New Year fell on #winewednesday.

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