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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

Wine trends: Transparency, sustainability and value for money

The way we drink wine has changed. Most of us don’t have cellars in our houses to age our bottles, and we like to drink wine when we want to drink it, not just on special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. We all have our preferences when it comes to the way we live our lives: we might choose to live a sustainable way of life; we might choose a vegan diet or we might have days where we abstain from alcohol. All of these individual preferences have an impact on the wines we choose to drink.

If we, as wine-drinkers, are living a whole spectrum of lifestyles, then you bet the people making the wine are, too. Yep - there are vegan winemakers; there are sustainable winemakers; there are winemakers who don’t use any chemicals and there are winemakers who are making low- or zero-alcohol wines. The choice is vast - you can pick the team you align with most and pin their colours to your jersey.

The rise of transparency and creativity 

The main thing that has changed in wine across the board is transparency. With a fresh wave of winemakers coming to the fore, from emerging regions or from new generations, the rule book has been thrown out of the window. Wine is no longer the gated kingdom it used to be, where only people “in-the-know” get to decipher wine labels or get to speak the winey vernacular that no one else understands!

Smashing the conventions and breaking the rules has unleashed an atomic bomb of creativity in wine, globally. Wait - wine doesn’t need to be in heavy glass bottles? It can be in lighter containers which reduce carbon emissions, without affecting the quality of the wine inside? Yes! Hang on - red wine doesn’t have to age in oak barrels to taste good and to be taken seriously? You got it! No… there can be wine made without chemicals, unfined and unfiltered… and it doesn’t taste like licking a donkey’s armpit? Who’da thunk it?

Prioritising quality and the environment 

A lot of these things are still new in wine and it will take a long time to win over the traditionalists, but the important thing is that the wines are tasting good and the quality doesn’t have to be compromised. In fact, the quality of wine across the board has improved greatly with advancements in technology and education. And - new ways of doing things, like canning youthful, fruity wines, actually preserves quality over older methods.

Alternative formats, like cans and bag-in-box, are rocking the wine world because, not only do they deliver great wine, but they’re also super practical. A can or a box is much more portable and storable than a glass bottle, so it’s a better choice for many bars with space issues. And how much easier and faster is it to hand over a can at a festival or squirt wine from a box, which can hold up to four bottles inside? 

Another major plus point about wines in alternative formats are that they are better for the environment. The impact we have on the environment is now something most of us care about, more than ever before. Wines that are sustainably-packaged and sustainably-made are more in line with how many of us want to live. Natural wines that use no chemical products are appealing, and their taste and quality has made leaps and bounds in the past decade. If we don’t want to eat chemicals, why would we want to drink them?

Value for money 

Finally, as modern wine drinkers, we’re looking for value for money. Money’s tight and we’re watching what and where we spend. That’s where emerging wine regions come in. Those places around the world that haven’t yet built their reputations, where their name doesn’t precede them, like somewhere like Bordeaux, Barolo or Champagne. Regions like Slovenia, Hungary or Romania, where the climate is just right for the wines we like to drink, don’t come with the price tag of a more famous region.

We have one emerging region right on our doorstep - that’s, right! Little old England. Granted, these wines aren’t the cheapest because of restraints that come with small production (and paying people a fair wage - we can’t argue with that), but these are handcrafted wines where the quality is sky-high, and the price of those bottles doesn’t have overseas shipping costs factored in. In that respect, English wines can offer great value for money and it’s definitely a region to dig into.

Nothing in this world stands still, and that includes wine. If the changes in the wine world have been passing you by, why not jump aboard and see what you’ve been missing?

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