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2019 wine trends: Cans, tech, sake

2019 wine trends: Cans, tech, sake

The first of each year I like to scour the business journals to research emerging trends in the wine market.

  • As with 2018, packaging will continue to matter to consumers with bling, material and technology. Not only is packaging important but it is changing the interest in brand loyalty to the largest group of wine consumers, millennials. With shelves lined with hundreds of choices, “eye catching” is the key. A Portland State University study showed these young buyers are most concerned with label color and logo. With more and more restaurants moving to digital (tablet) wine lists, the visual presentation will also show a growing impact of how we select wines while dining out.
  • Canned wine continues to grow. Many surveys showed an increase in sales as high as 45 percent from June 2017 to June 2018. This trend has been credited for several reasons — including pricing and portability — but most interesting is the intimidation factor. When consumers were faced with a range of availability the relaxed nature of the can seems to help ease the process.
  • Technology will continue to play a key role with a shift in our buying experience. Producers are stepping in line with other retail commodities giving us a virtual experience. Treasury Wine Estates recently released “The Banished” red wine under its “19 Crimes” brand aimed at men between 21 and 34 years old. This includes a mobile app that activates an augmented reality feature when the phone’s camera is pointed at the bottle.
  • Another hot topic will be the discussion of shifting climates and environmental concerns. The top of the list will be water stress and temperature increases. The regions in the past we considered “cooler” are not so cool anymore. Many vineyards will be replanted with different varietals and we will see emerging regions coming to the market where grapes were simply unable to ripen. California will continue to struggle with the aftereffects of the fires and drought in 2019. David Ramey — owner and winemaker of Ramey Wine Cellars in Sonoma County — goes even as far as issuing a warning to consumers in the coming year, “If this continues, the impact on the marketplace will be substantial.”
  • It will take a few more years but sake is quickly becoming an established drink in the U.S. market. A recent survey showed it was featured on 2 of every 5 premium wine lists and half of those had an entire section specific to sake. It has slowly been added as a cocktail ingredient but in 2019 we will see more and more restaurants recommending this wine as the ideal wine pairing for almost any dish on the menu.
  • What’s next in regions and trending grape varietals? Uruguay seems to be the answer for many wine drinkers in Europe and is quickly entering the U.S. market. And with more and more consumers looking to fruit-driven lighter styles of red wine we will see an emergence of cabernet franc and also more indigenous grapes from Italy with nero d’avola leading the list.

So, all in all we will have some exciting new shifts in 2019. But one I was just not ready to accept is that edible wine “bottles” made from isomalt, a sugar substitute, will become commonplace. For that one, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Canned wines get high marks in impromptu test

Canned wines get high marks in impromptu test

From tailgate parties and camping trips to cookouts in our own backyards, our beautiful state offers seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor dining. But glass bottles and the great outdoors do not go hand-in-hand. Which brings the question: What is my take on canned wine?

I will start with a simple observation: there are great wines and horrible wines, both can be found in bottles, boxes and cans.

Canned wines are one of the most underrated of wine packaging. Convenience is often considered canned wine’s biggest advantage over the bottle. Cans cool quickly in coolers alongside other beverages, no corkscrew is needed, they’re lightweight and easily recycled. And cans don’t break and send shards of glass flying when accidentally dropped.

The most important thing to remember when popping open a can of wine is the serving size. Most cans are 375 milliliters. It’s easy to forget this is equal to half a standard bottle of wine. Many brands make their packaging size look and feel like craft beers, but remember most wines will have much higher alcohol content.

This brings us to the question, does wine in cans taste as good as in the bottle? A few years ago, I did an experiment with friends where I had them taste a canned wine I had already poured into a wine glass. The outcome was expected — I already knew the wines were fantastic — but most were shocked to learn wine was from a can. This time I changed up the tasting by asking them to taste the wine in the can first. In general, everyone agreed it was a good wine and they would consider drinking it in a pinch outdoors. But, when I poured it into a beautiful specified wine glass the feedback went from “in a pinch” to “this is a great wine.”

So here’s my tip: Buy the canned wine to take on your camping trip or tailgate party, but include a few of your favorite shatter-proof wine glasses in the picnic bag for serving.


  • The Great Oregon Wine Company Lil’ Rascal Pinot Gris, Oregon (about $14 retail — 4 pack)
  • Dark Horse Rose, California (about $5 retail)
  • Underwood The Bubbles, California (about $ 8 retail)