Wine predictions for 2016

predictions wine

What do I know? I’m a wine journalist who travels the world, asks lots of questions, and has a slight obsession with interesting wine. But my love for wine means I’m seeing things from a particular perspective, and I can’t claim to understand all the segments of the wine business equally well. For example, I’m not in the business of selling wine. People who actually flog the stuff have insights I couldn’t hope to gain. But I’m bold and foolish enough to issue some predictions for the wine world in 2016. My predictions for previous years are here and here (I didn’t make any last year).

Segmentation of the market is so critical when we are discussing wine. This is because wine isn’t just wine. There are different rules and constraints for different segments, and our conversations will quickly become silly and frustrating if we talk across segments. So, with this caveat in mind, here are some predictions:

  • It’s been a big year for English Sparkling Wine, and I think 2016 will see further growth in and excitement about this category. I’ve heard trade murmurings predicting disaster scenarios of over-supply and falling prices, but there’s a sweet spot of pricing at £20-30 where good Brit fizz can sell enough bottles and also preserve its high-end image. I think the future is bright.
  • Natural wine is supposed to have died. Many of the famous wine journalists have predicted this. But it’s thriving. Outside the wine trade no one really cares that natural doesn’t have a definition, and far from it being a ‘scam’, outsiders see this movement as composed of genuine, dedicated people with a good story to tell. Expect ‘natural’ and ‘authentic’ wines to continue to thrive, even if they will never be mainstream.
  • Allied to the increased interest in natural wine, there’s the rise of lighter-coloured reds. I wrote about this recently. In 2016 this currently geeky interest will become more mainstream. Even Jacobs Creek are working on a lighter-coloured red wine project it seems.
  • Gamay is going to hit the mainstream in 2016. A variety for our times, and with red Burgundy so out of reach, there’s increasing focus on the best terroirs in Beaujolais. So is Chenin Blanc. Interest in Chenin has been a slow burn with consumers, but I think it is coming.
  • If you love good Chablis (who doesn’t?), then start stocking your cellars. Top Chablis is currently affordable, but it won’t be forever.
  • 2015 has been a bad year for supermarkets in the UK when it comes to wine. The major UK supermarkets have responded to the discounters by cutting their prices and reducing their ranges. It’s no huge loss, actually, because there was massive duplication and an illusion of choice before. It has been a long time since wine lovers were able to find any real joy on supermarket shelves, anyway. But that’s not where they should be shopping for wine, so I’m not knocking the supermarket buyers here. For the normal punter, supermarket wine ranges offer some clean, drinkable wines at good prices. I’d expect to see a continuation of this theme of offering smaller wine ranges in supermarkets with every day low pricing replacing the once-ubiquitous and often deceptive promotional mechanics. Wine writers might hate this, but I think we’ll see ranges that are better tuned to the needs of customers.
  • Elsewhere in the UK, I expect that Majestic Wine – a very important retailer for this country – will begin shifting its range towards private label/own brand. I really hope not, because this isn’t in the interest of wine producers or consumers. And they’ll probably issue lots of press releases telling us how well they are doing which the trade press will publish unedited.
  • It’s going to be a good year for high-end Bordeaux. The wine trade has been bitching about Bordeaux – and specifically the failed primeur campaigns of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages. But 2015 is looking a promising vintage, and a hungry wine trade is less fussy than it might otherwise have been. So I reckon the wine trade and Bordeaux are going to make friends this primeur campaign. The Châteaux’ pricing will be more realistic, and the trade will forgive, after having flirted with other options. After all, what is the fine wine scene without Bordeaux? I hope I’m right, because the alternative scenario could be a disaster.
  • 2016 will be a good year for Chilean fine wine. Chile has always done good commercial wines, and now it’s starting to make some more interesting high-end wines too. There are a lot of smart, curious winemakers in Chile, and they have some good raw material to work with, including Pais grown in interesting terroirs.
  • 2016 will be the year when the rest of the world realizes that there’s more to Canadian wine than just ice wine. Riesling, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and even Syrah – there are great examples of all these varieties emerging from Canada’s diverse wine regions.
  • Sparkling wine – of all kinds – is on fire at the moment. It’s a category that will continue to grow. People love bubbles.
  • Wine by the glass – including alternative delivery systems – is going to continue to grow in 2016. It just makes so much sense, and the technology for keeping wine fresh when it is served this way has improved a lot.
  • And, finally, don’t expect the rosé revolution to slow down in 2016. Rosé in magnum: it’s a thing.

OK, there are some predictions. I could go on with another 40 quite easily, but this will do for now. Let me know what you think – and your own predictions for this next year in wine.

18 comments to Wine predictions for 2016

  • Interesting article, i think you are right about natural wines, still popular as far as I can see. Slightly depressed that more of my favourite wines are set to become more popular/expensive though! I also hope you are right about the bordelaise being sensible with pricing this year, only time will tell. I also think the Macon will become more popular as an alternative to more expensive white burgundy. Producers like domaine bongran are producing great wines at under £20 which in my view give us much pleasure as wines 2 or 3 times that price from posher postcodes.

  • Matthieu

    Hi Jamie happy new year, and your predictions makes sense.
    Maybe a big rise and sales of the old VDN from Roussillon. There doing so well they deserve it.

  • Interesting article. I agree that natural wines are still popular as far as I can see, around London anyway. I am a bit depressed you think Chablis will become unaffordable but you are probably right. I think the Macon will become more popular as an affordable alternative to cote de beaune. Producers like domaine bongran give more pleasure under £20 than some posher postcodes do at 2-3 time the price. I also think with the increase in both the cost and and range of wine available, people will be less inclined to buy cases of 12. I see producers offering more mixed cases across their range. There’s just too much good wine out there to buy 12 of the same wine.

  • Nick Oakley

    English fizz will be HUGE. Pet-nat is something I only hear about. Have yet to see or taste one. Magnums of rosé? A bottle is a bottle, but a magnum is a PARTY.You may be right. Happy New Year to all readers.

  • I agree on the English fizz – perhaps the big news at the moment is that Nyetimber have made an NV, even if it still seems to be sitting in their cellars. I think we’ll see a lot more of this from the English producers over the next few years as they come of age and start to seriously challenge Champagne in the NV stakes.

    I’m not sure I agree Gamay will ever take off – it’s simply not a mainstream flavour profile – it simply takes too much effort to appreciate to ever become that popular.

  • Burgundydonthavepostcodes

    Methinks Simon has a vested interest in Dom. Bongran. Really interesting article. Thanks for the plug for Canadian wine.

  • What do you think about wines from Eastern Europe, if I may ask?

  • Agree with some of that, though I think some is a bit of a wish list.

    I used to work in Canada and I’d love to see them doing well but I can’t agree with your prediction. Almost everyone who already knows Canada makes wine will know it’s not just Icewine and nobody else is going to be bothered, as it can’t compete on price.

    Chenin I can’t really see making the big time any time soon. Based on what do you think that the interest is coming?

    Bordeaux – every year it seems to be the “last chance” to save the en primeur system, “the Bordelais have got to get it right” etc etc. With a really good year like 2015, I would have thought prices will go up. Surely there are enough rich people around who have sat out some of the recent lesser vintages..?

  • Good to see Canadian summer visits paying off in the international critic world. It was a pleasure having Jaime dine with us several times this summer. Many of the trends he mentions in this article are on full display here Redstone Winery organically. Keeps my days interesting. Thanks Jaime, hope to see you again soon.

  • Interesting article. I agree with your vision on Chablis. Very good P/Q compared to white Puligny, Corton, Meursault, …

  • I agree about Chile, and nice that producers have expanded outside Sauvignon Blanc / Carmenère / Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the flagship wines are still priced too high in my opinion, but perhaps they aren’t priced to sell. Some great Pinot Noir coming out of Chile now that they aren’t treating it like Cab!

  • Great work as always. I agree re Chenin Blanc, which has already caught on in my parts. I’d also add Muscadet to the wine 2016 predictions. Simple, balanced French white that never retails for more than $15 US. Great with seafood or by itself, in my opinion.

  • keith prothero

    hope you are wrong and amazed no mention of South Africa which surely represents the best QPR wine on the planet at present exchange rates

  • Bob Parsons Alberta

    Keith…SA is doing very well here in town.

  • Yes, Keith – but South Africa has well and truly arrived
    Cezar – some good things coming from the Balkans, but still a bit of progress to be made – it’s an area that really interests me
    Macon – yes, real potential

  • Vinicio Zanetti

    No mention of Italy… Prosecco stop succeeding in 2016??

  • BROse, that is all.


  • It’s interesting to read about the trends for the UK. I just did some research for my own thoughts on 2016’s wine trends, which tend to be largely the same, minus UK specific. There are a couple you listed that I was unaware of, such as Canadian Wine, cannot say I’ve ever had a glass, but I suppose this is the year to give it a try. Cheers to the New Years!

    Wineries and Vineyards

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