It’s no secret that the culinary world has suffered under COVID-19 restrictions. Since March, thousands of restaurants and bars have closed; hundreds of farms in the U.S. alone have gone bankrupt; and the amount of food waste due to rot, the inability to harvest, and lack of consumers will affect the industry for years to come.
Despite what many people may expect, the wine industry has suffered along with the rest of the gastronomic world. When we think of quarantine, many have notions of popping bottles in their pajamas and playing games all night or enjoying tasting their way around the world from the privacy and comfort of their own home. In reality, alcohol sales skyrocketed in the first few months of the lockdown but have since leveled out, and the wine industry has suffered the most for it.
In fact, experts predict that in all the food industry, the wine industry will feel the impacts of COVID-19 the hardest and longest. The wine industry was already suffering pre-pandemic because of difficulties in grape-growing caused by climate change. Now, climate change plus the pandemic is creating a problem in the wine industry like no other. Fortunately, winemakers are ready to adapt to the world’s market and hold on tight. After all, who cultivates a vineyard and waits ten years before they can even begin processing grapes into wine, just to let beer take over?
Everyone’s favorite trendy (and environmentally conscious) diet is a way to avoid chemicals and can be more sustainable for the environment. When it comes to wine, drinking organic is no different. Organic wines have actually been proven to cause fewer headaches in drinkers. Often, when we think organic, we only recognize the lack of pesticides, but in winemaking, organic production also means less added flavorings and less preservatives, which means less sugars and less added sulfites (sulfites occur naturally during the wine’s fermentation process, but sulfuric compounds are often added to non-organic wines to enhance their shelf-life), the driving factors to the next-day headache.
This is not to say that drinking organic wine will prevent a hangover (we can dream), but still, less added sugars and sulfites can help you avoid the painful remnants of last night’s cocktail hour while also drinking a sustainable product. You’re literally helping yourself and the planet. Nearly every wine-producing region in the world now produces some type of organic wine, Jean-Charles Boisset’s rosé has been highly regarded as one of the best. A great option if rosés do tend to give you a headache.
Can it be true?
Most wine connoisseurs would rather be caught dead than drink from a can, but that’s exactly where the wine industry is headed. The sound of a popped cork may soon be replaced by a popped tab as the winemakers seek new ways of being competitive and relevant. Today’s consumers value easy, on-the-go drinks; think pre-mixed cocktails and classic beer. They’re easy to transport and easy to consume. There’s no need for any extra thought or planning, just open and enjoy. According to Nielson, canned wine, which was introduced to the market in 2015, grew in 2018 by 155% and by summer 2019, totaling over $3 million in sales.
In the Covid-world, convenience and transportability are especially important. While outdoor dining is the norm, and on-the-go, no-fuss option is a must. From California and Oregon to Cape Town’s Lubanzi Wines, canned wine is seen as an environmentally friendly and convenient way to drink wine.
Sure, most of us still have concerns— the can must affect the flavor of the wine, right? —nevertheless, canned wine is expected to continue to grow as multi-flavored variety packs enter the market, and the price of bottling with cork becomes even more expensive. Perhaps we will get used to the new way to drink our favorite grapes. After all, aluminum cans are recyclable and common, making them a great choice for sustainability.
In the U.S., champagne is generally viewed as a celebratory drink, which may actually help it. According to Mordor Intelligence, sparkling wines are expected to suffer the least in the next few years due to its reputation for festive occasions. Over the next five years, the sparkling wine market is expected to grow fastest as it is still seen as a status symbol throughout much of the world with the infamous Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon is expected to continue to lead the sparkling wine segment.
Alternatively, in most of Europe and other places throughout the world, champagne is a more frequent choice along with prosecco. The bubbly wines are likely chosen over flat wines due to geography — when in Champagne, drink as the locals — meaning the need for bubbles won’t be dying down any time soon.
Where do we grow from here?
Despite the challenges in wine’s way, there is hope for those of us who can’t live without the stuff grapes grow up to be. Due to its health properties, wine, particularly red wine, is still in high demand with no signs of slowing down. The Asian wine industry is starting to boom leading to more and varied flavors, think fruit-infused and tropical terroirs. The premium wine industry is also anticipating continued growth. Even with boxed winemaking a comeback and canned wine on the rise, it appears people still have a high demand for the classic sophistication of good wine. In the next five years, the global wine market is projected to grow 5.8% with red wine dominating the market, but sparkling wines growing most-rapidly, which means that despite all of the obstacles, we won’t have to give up our corkscrews and long-stems any time soon.
Meet the Writer!
Taylor Fox is a New York-based travel and food writer, specializing in the impact of food within culture.
Learn more about Taylor at TaylorPerezFox.