All trends are subject to change. As recently as last summer, it felt like nothing could dethrone rosé wine as the ultimate summer tipple. Then 2019 came along, and everything changed with the arrival of White Claw Summer.
To find out which fads have had their day, VinePair polled leading wine pros from around the country and asked for their take on the worst trends in wine right now.
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“While I love exploring little known wine regions, and am genuinely happy when I see natural wines on a list, it often seems they’re accompanied by an almost visceral disdain for classic wines/regions/styles that many guests love. I’ve noticed a creeping tendency in young somms to talk down to guests who just want a glass of something they’re familiar with. And while I completely understand (and encourage) the desire to turn people onto something they’ve never experienced, more often than not, it’s done in a derogatory manner.” — David Gibbs, Co-Owner, Sushi Note, Los Angeles, CA
“Sulfur! I don’t think there’s a more misunderstood part of wine than [sulfur dioxide] SO2, its place in wine, how it affects the wine, and if it affects the person drinking the wine … Less than 1 percent of the population have an allergy to sulfur. Don’t be scared of sulfur, it’s natural!“ — Chris Leon, Leon & Son Wine and Spirits, Brooklyn NY, Grand Rapids MI
“CBD-infused wines. I’m not against the use of cannabis, but more so against infusing wine with anything. The best thing about wine is expression of fruit and terroir, and any additives take away from that.” — Amy Racine, Wine Director, The Times Square EDITION, New York, NY
“The points rating system needs to be phased out. It’s completely antiquated and arbitrary in its current state. A points system made sense decades ago when wine was a fringe thing in society, but it simply isn’t relevant any longer. There are more thoughtful ways to talk about wine than by assigning it a numerical value.” — Rick Arline, Sommelier, auburn, Los Angeles, CA
“One thing that I would love to change about the wine industry right now is the lack of general information about tap wines. They are great, very environmentally kind, and much more affordable both for the bar and their guests.” — Brian Daigle, General Manager, GT Fish & Oyster, Chicago, IL
“The worst trend in wine right now is homogeneous lists. As a wine buyer, it’s not about what you like but about what the guest prefers and what fits with your restaurant. I see so many lists that are all off-the-beaten-path varietals at the same price point, or all high-acid whites. Even if they are delicious, you need [a] bottle that will satisfy the Cabernet or Chardonnay drinker. I also think many wine lists are too scared to have high-end wines. Break out of the $60 range! You will be surprised at how many guests will buy a high-end bottle because they know the quality is there, especially if it is a special occasion.” — Ashley Broshious, Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier, Zero Restaurant + Bar, Charleston, SC
“Pale rosé with minimal flavor.” — Anthony Cailan, Sommelier, The Usual, New York, NY
“One trend I don’t like is how people are adhering to what social media influencers are telling them to drink, how much they should be paying, and what a wine list should look like. Please let the servers, chef, and sommelier do their job and enjoy the experience [and] don’t get mad if the restaurant doesn’t have a buttery Chardonnay by the glass. Also, stop pushing me on wine in a can or wine in a keg, and stop telling me that’s cost-effective.” — Juan Fernandez, Head Sommelier, The Ballantyne Hotel, Charlotte, NC
“The worst wine trend right now is the rising price on wine lists in New York. Wine is meant to be shared with friends and family. It shouldn’t be so expensive that only the few can afford it. I am a believer in the idea that there should be a wine and price point for everyone.” — Chelsea Carrier, Beverage Director and Sommelier, Roof at Park South, New York, NY
“I would like to move on from the “natural wine” craze that has so many of us captivated. I’m all for a minimalist approach in the vineyards and during the winemaking process, but when that translates to a flawed wine in the glass… let me off the bus. One final trend that I would like to remove from the guests’ decision-making process is the necessity to drink a wine with a high “point score.” Point scores are not a factor for me when deciding what I put on the wine list, and it’s not a language I speak. I only buy and sell delicious. I speak delicious.” — Ryan Baldwin, Sommelier, Margeaux Brasserie, Chicago, IL
“The worst wine trend is no focus or thought behind a wine list. So many times, you will go to a restaurant and the wine will not represent the philosophy of the restaurant or even the cuisine. (That [also] goes for liquor, beer, and any subcategory) … Another bad habit we see in this industry is a lack of knowledge of the classics or foundation wines. There is no way to appreciate Nebbiolo from the New World unless you have had it in any form from Piedmont. Every “trendy” style of wine is born out of trying to emulate a classic or to completely bastardize it and do the exact opposite. If you are going to choose to swim against the current, be knowledgeable and have a reason for your guests when they ask why.” — Zac Adcox, Sommelier, indo, St. Louis, MO
“Bad canned wine. After natural wine, the can movement is one of the most interesting and exciting things we watch and enjoy right now … Sadly, so many customers have had a really bad [canned] wine as their first impression, [and] it’s hard to break the perception that all cans are plonk. The second you get them into something delicious, however, they’re hooked … [Also,] carbonic everything. While I absolutely love wines with the lift and the energy that carbonic maceration and fermentation brings out, there’s a point where it just goes too far … Nobody needs carbonic Cabernet in their life.” — Will Frischkorn, Co-owner, Cured, Boulder, CO
“Interesting wines or wine lists without staff training to match. Maybe it’s the proliferation of social media and buyers following trends they see in people’s feeds. We all like to try new things, but when there isn’t someone like a sommelier to give guidance on the floor, the staff needs to be trained to really answer those questions.” — Ryan Arnold, Wine Director, McGuire Moorman Hospitality, Austin, TX
“I would say the worst trend is a continued building of wine brands, especially from the USA, that are simply selling a name/brand and not a quality of wine on par with the price they are charging. I think these “designer” wines, tailored towards people who want to show off for clients at a dinner, have cheapened the hard work that so many people with true passion for the industry put into their wines. To me, wine should not be about marketing dollars or the label/name, it should be about the actual substance of the wine.” — Alex Papetsas, Wine Director, Kellari, New York, NY