Rest assured, one can set their clock to the changing seasons and subsequent shifts in weather, but lucky for us, wine is always in season and never out of style. However, just as seasons come and go, so do tastes and preferences.
From supporting unique local producers to placing a value on responsible consumption, the following trends round up a shift towards a modern “vino curious” mindset that is very much here to stay. Canadian consumers have never been more open to discovery and exploration, and here’s what we’ve been seeing to prove it.
Shopping and appreciating local
After over a year of heightened border restrictions and more time spent at home, domestic travel became the world’s new norm, and Canada was no exception. This trend, combined with the tidal wave of support for local businesses to help a recovering economy, led to a newfound appreciation for Canadian producers.
From seeking out local restaurants to venturing out to wine country, consumers embraced the incredible wine harvested right in our backyard and had the opportunity to get to know producers much more intimately. This led to an influx in appetite for wine regions like Niagara, Hockley Valley and Prince Edward County in Ontario, and favouritism for winemakers in these regions along the likes of Pearl Morissette, Adamo Estate Winery and Grange of Prince Edward. Wine agencies with a focus on Ontario wines to check out are Nicholas Pearce Wines, Noble Estates and The Living Vine.
Not only are Canadians more interested in drinking local, they are also open to trying new wines from local producers they aren’t familiar with. Supporting local has never tasted so good!
Natural, organic, biodynamic and sustainably made wines
Consumers, especially Gen-Zs and Millennials, have become very mindful of what they are consuming, it’s story and the community surrounding a product. As a result, we’ve seen a thirst for wines within the natural, organic, biodynamic and sustainable space.
Often grouped together, these terms are very different practices that ladder back to an environmental philosophy. So, what makes them different?
- Organic Wine: Wine made without the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.
- Biodynamic Wine: A holistic approach to farming using its own calendar to manage the vineyard.
- Natural Wine: Natural wine is widely believed to be wine without any additives.
- Sustainable Wine: A farming practice intended to protect the environment around it.
Whatever your preference, it’s clear that the shift to a responsibly made product is not unique to the world of wine. As a result, wine drinkers aren’t necessarily looking for a certain style of wine, but a more responsibly made product.
Skin Contact White Wine – pair it with your next cheese board
Canadians have become more vino curious than ever, which comes with a willingness to try something out of their comfort zone. Case in point: Skin Contact wine, or commonly known as, “Orange Wine”.
Skin contact wine is a white wine that has been soaked on its skins for a certain amount of time, in a similar fashion to how red wine is made. This is what gives it a deeper orange colour and generally adds quite a bit of texture and complexity.
Orange wine is a refreshing varietal to add to your cellar (or bar cart) and pairs well with most cheeses. As we toast to the rest of summer and head into harvest season, consider picking one up on your next trip to the bottle shop. Not sure where to start? Try out Anfora Aged Orange Wine from The Living Vine, First Contact Skin Fermented White by Nicholas Pearce or Domino de Punctum Pomelado found at LCBO. The funkier, the better!
New and unique wine regions and grape varieties
Furthering the trend of curiosity, consumers have become more and more open to exploring less popularized varieties and regions that are becoming not only discovered, but loved. The new generation of wine lovers are not as caught up in classic wine regions and are seeking out new, small and unique regions to add to their repertoire.
Newer regions and varieties include, but are not limited to: Listan Blanco from the Canary Islands; Riesling from Slovenia; Malagouzia from Macedonia; and Georgian wines.
Preferences and palates may shift, however there’s one very important trend that never goes out of style: the enjoyment of wine. No matter your taste, wine unlocks a world of experiences that are best paired with good food and good company. So close out the summer the right way and open up your favourite bottle of wine…whatever that might be!
-Jordan Mazzanti is the Head Sommelier at Langdon Hall and Lead Sommelier at Somm.
This feature article is part of a collaborative series between VineRoutes and Somm – a Toronto-based technology company focused on making wine more approachable and accessible to everyone. Somm is building a personally tailored recommendation engine for the human palate, and in the process, is putting a sommelier in everyone’s pocket. Download Somm today to join the journey and become part of the Cru. Visit www.somm.io.