Through the Grapevine: 6 experts weigh in on the world of modern wine

On Trends and Values

By Leslee Miller, Sommelier and Consultant, Amusée

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Leslee Miller // Illustration by Brent Schoonover

I’m still seeing the “natural wine” trend continuing to grow. These wines are made with little-to-no chemical and technological intervention—which usually means organic farming, no manipulation like artificial yeasts or additions to the wine, no filtering, and generally no sulfur added during bottling.

Even though American winemakers are at the forefront of the trend today, we forget that many European countries have been making “natural” wines for centuries, especially Eastern Bloc countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Georgia. Try Movia from Slovenia, Pheasant’s Tears from Georgia, and Domaine Rolet from Jura, France.

When you buy natural wine, you’re generally supporting small family wineries and everything you’re consuming is natural. The only challenge is sometimes the cost can run a little higher per bottle, since this kind of farming is more labor-intensive.

For the “best bang for your buck,” I am still looking towards Portugal. You’re probably familiar with vinho verde—the fizzy, cheap white wine that tastes great in the summer heat. But beyond that, Portugal has been releasing more and more still wines to our country. White grapes like azal, arinto, trajadura, and encruzado are fresh, aromatic, high acid, and ridiculously refreshing. They’re so good paired to fatty foods like Marcona almonds (swimming in olive oil, yes!), fried fishes, and fatty meats. Also Portugal’s red grapes like baga, touriga franca, and touriga nacional are being single-bottled. They’re easy to consume, mostly medium-bodied with some good dark fruit components, though some are fuller with an explosion of pepper and spice. Super fun.

Also, the exploration of new grapes has been one of the hottest trends I’ve seen, especially amongst the millennials. I’m now able to get many consumers to drink grapes like würzer (Germany), scheurebe (Germany) and treixadura (Spain) without blinking an eye. I’m loving that aspect of today’s wine drinkers—they’re more adventurous.

Next page: Why the ‘Itasca’ Grape is Important for Midwest Wine

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