by Tamra Bolton
At the beginning of every New Year, people make predictions about social trends, fashion, technology, sports and dozens of other things. Sometimes their crystal-gazing is spot on, more often it is not. Some things like fashion and technology change so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up. I prefer the slower moving trends that gradually build and develop a loyal following, like those in the food and wine world. Yes, there are momentary “flashes in the pan”, pardon the pun, when it comes to a foodie craze, but more often than not, you can watch these trends leisurely stroll onto center stage.
One such trend I have been watching in the world of wine is a burgeoning movement to make wine experiences more personal, less stuffy, and even casual. No longer should you feel intimidated about all that formal swirling and sniffing or embarrassed because you don’t “speak the language.” Bon appétit magazine calls this trend “the totally fun, not-at-all-stuffy, new rules of wine”. Being a laid back type of person myself, I find this move towards a more relaxed experience refreshing. Not everyone feels the same however, some still feel that a level of exclusion makes for better wine appreciation and that’s fine, but I like to enjoy my wine withoutfear of the dreaded faux pas. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough…if that’s true, there are certainly a lot of other uncomplicated human beings out there who are jumping on board this trend.
This new freedom to choose what you like, revel in small labels and ignore the big bucks market is something I believe we’ll see continue to gain momentum in 2016. Smaller family owned wineries, craft beer companies, and even regional distilleries are growing in popularity.
In 2016, I see more “rules” of wine and spirits being tossed out in favor of pure enjoyment and freedom of expression. So, the next time you’re invited to bring the wine, surprise them with one of your family-owned small labels, even if no one’s ever heard of them before. This is the year for enjoying life to the fullest, getting rid of stale habits and learning to relax.
Casual is no longer a dirty word!