Wines for a Brave New Year!



As an icy wind howls and grips most of the Mid-West (and parts of Canada) this weekend, we need to be brave. Part of being brave is keeping an eye on the horizon, and the sunnier skies that will emerge once the storm has done its worst.

When a new year begins, we all have a tendency to want to move beyond the old habits and embrace something new. And that means occasionally moving from the safe, tried-and-true wines we know, towards those we maybe have overlooked.

According to, the biggest trends for 2018 include:

  • Increase in wines from “lesser known but traditional wine regions” including Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Georgia.
  • Red blends, especially from Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.
  • Big bottles ie magnums in both wine shops and restaurants.
  • Increases in premium wine sales ~ no more three buck Chuck at the table.
  • Wine with a conscience : organic, sustainably farmed, natural, and biodynamic wines will be on the rise.
  • In keeping with purposeful wines, experts predict a surge in wine purchases to support the California winemakers rebuilding from the devastating fires in ’17, especially from Napa and Sonoma regions.
  • Revisiting Chilean wines especially Pinot Noir from Casablanca and cool mountain Syrah.
  • Expect to see more rule breaking: drinking whites, sparklers and rosé in the winter, and bold, full-bodied reds in the summer.
  • Wine in cans ~ more and more producers are selling canned wine with the advent of Can Van Mobile, a canning line that can be assembled within a small or large winery within an hour. And let’s be honest, canned wines are easier to take in your backpack on your picnic than glass bottles.

Vivino’s take on the upcoming 2018 trends is just a little bit different:

  • Sweet, or dessert wine ~ in their 2018 Wine Style Awards, Sauternes took the number one spot, which is surprising since many will eschew sweeter wines for dry.
  •  Zero-sugar movement ~ in stark contrast to sweet wines upswing, wines such as Brut Nature (zero sugar) are also gaining in popularity. More and more health conscious wine drinkers want to cut out the sugar in their choices. Look for Brut NatureZero Dosage, or Sauvage on the label, which indicates that sugar is fermented to a level of ‘zero’.
  • Prosecco, Cava and Cremant ~ consumers want to continue the New Year’s party by enjoying sparkling wines all year! Prosecco leads the way, but also opens up the field for Cava (Spanish) and Cremant (sparkling French wine from outside the Champagne region).
  • Uruguayan wine ~ especially Tannat, a concentrated, full-bodied wine that comes in many forms: robust red, spicy rosé, and even sparkling red.
  • Small Production Wines ~ smaller, not as well known wineries in regions like Oregon (Vivino saw increases of 10 percent), and Washington, especially Gramercy Cellars are gaining in popularity by keeping their production small and quality high. Sometimes these wines are difficult to find, because many in the know buy them up quickly and quietly, but they are worth looking for.

And in North East Ohio, one wine tops the forecast:

  • Rosé ~ Shaun Hardon, Certified Specialist of Wine for Heidelberg Distributing Company in Independence, Ohio said via email that he sees rosé’s star continuing to rise. “I started seeing a growing popularity for rosé about six years ago but last year was eye opening! Based on what I’ve seen and heard, it looks like the popularity will continue to grow this season. And it is no longer just the bone dry Provence style anymore. I’ve noticed restaurants looking for something a little different from countries other than France.”

It looks like 2018 is going to be very bright indeed. With so many wines, regions and styles to explore, it’s a good thing there are 353 days left!

If you have to venture out this weekend, please be safe!

Cheers! 🍷

©TheWineStudent, 2018


Mac n Cheese Monday!

Ok, so it’s more about the wine than the mac and cheese but Rosé doesn’t start with M

My girl is home from college and as a budding gourmet, she wanted to experiment with a simple but yummy mac and cheese recipe. So which wine would be interesting? 

A few days ago, HubbyDoug came across a 2016 Alexander Valley Vineyards dry Rosé of Sangiovese. We’ve enjoyed many of AVV’s offerings in the past but a Sangiovese Rosé was what peaked his interest. Who was I to say, “Bah!”? 

Rosé is made from black grapes and its production is similar to red wines, but fermentation is at lower  temperatures, and is taken off grapeskin contact after only 12 to 36 hours so that the wine doesn’t become too deeply colored or tannic. Most red wines maintain skin contact for more than two weeks (for richly flavored wines). 

This wine was amazing with the combination of Jarlsberg and Monterey Jack cheese; it cut through the creamy butter vibe with a refreshing acidity and wonderful light fruity quality. To try to assauge our guilt, we added a nice combination of sweet green peas and broccoli to the mix. 😉

I’ve often enjoyed a crisp, bubbly Prosecco with dishes that are this creamy and rich, but this Rosé was a surprising and wonderful alternative. And for summer, Rosé is a fun change of pace. Think pink!