This is an excerpt from Restaurant Wine, issues #163-165 (2015/2016).

Wine Types & Categories Surprising to the Upside On-Premise

Of course, wine directors and sommeliers are very aware of the ‘bubbles craze’ at the moment, driven by Prosecco. And by the increasing customer demand for organic, biodynamic, and ‘natural’ wines, fanned by the organic food movement. And by low/no oak wines, which tend to be more refreshing, easier to drink, and more versatile at the table than strongly oaked wines. And the overwhelming strength of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. But so far in 2016, these five wine types/categories are enjoying above-average growth:

1. Imported wines

The strength of the U.S. dollar is a boon for American wine drinkers, and the volume of imports is growing. Imports accounted for 31% of U.S. wine sales, by volume, in 2015—and are projected to hit 33% by the end of 2016. In particular, wines from Italy, Australia, France, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and New Zealand are benefitting, given their strong market presence, and wide range of moderately prices wines.

2. Moderately priced red blends

Both dry and medium sweet red blends have leapt into the spotlight in the past decade. In many cases, the wines are softly textured, ripely flavored, and mouth-filling: most sell for $144/case (wholesale) or less, and are aimed at young and/or novice wine drinkers.

Simultaneously, dry ‘sophisticated’ red blends have come of age among traditional wine drinkers: think Cotes du Rhone, red Bordeaux, and wines carrying the new Vin de France designation. Moderately priced, quality blends have been long championed by Australian wine producers, who identified the varietal blend on the wines’ front label.

This trend has spread to and been embraced by New World wineries in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and the USA, among others; and to Old World producers in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, and so on, especially in popularly priced, high volume wines.

This is an excerpt from Restaurant Wine, issues #163-165 (2015/2016).

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Restaurant Wine is published by Ronn Wiegand, one of four people in the world to hold the titles of Master of Wine and Master Sommelier.