It’s been a memorable year in the wine world with things opening back up from COVID and the extreme weather of climate change, but what’s been happening on the retail side regarding wine trends of 2022? Which bottles are people buzzing about — and which ones are falling by the wayside in popularity?
We talked to multiple wine shop owners and wine professionals from across the U.S. to hear about what wines flew off the shelves, plus some insight into what they’re planning for in 2023.
While some trends were pretty consistent across the board (No. 6, we’re looking at you), others were a little more specific to their niche. But one thing everyone agrees on, comparing 2022 to the last two years is virtually impossible because COVID changed all things in all ways.
That said, wine pros did notice a few silver linings.
“I think many people honed in on what they liked to drink during the shutdown,” Femi Oyediran, co-owner of Graft Wine Shop and wine bar in uptown Charleston, S.C., says. “I’d say people in Charleston have become more articulate about what they want, which is awesome.”
Matt Stamp, co-owner of Compline Restaurant and the newly opened Compline Wine Shop in Napa, agrees.
“People are going back to normal,” Stamp says. “They are spending less ostentatiously on wine in the restaurant setting. However, one perk of the last couple of years is that people did have time to explore more wine.”
That exploration led to some interesting new trends in wine – along with some good ol’ standbys continuing to lead in popularity year over year.
1. Wines That Deliver Big Value
With increasing costs and inflation almost everywhere you turn, it’s no surprise that people are looking for better quality wines at lower prices.
Lily Peachin, the founder of Dandelion Wine and Dandy Wine & Spirits in North Brooklyn, N.Y., says her shops’ top three selling wines of the year were all under $20 — with liters of red wine being a top player behind bottles of Prosecco, whites, and rosé.
“Wine is getting more and more expensive due to supply chains and environmental changes,” Peachin says. “It’s a worrisome time for wine lovers and time to explore new regions, varieties, methods, and packaging.”
Miles White, co-owner of Graft Wine Shop and wine bar with Oyediran (watch both of them in their Blind Tasting Sessions episode here), hopes the trend of everyday wine, at everyday prices – especially from farm-focused and smaller production producers – continues.
“I hear so many people who reminisce of their study abroad in Italy where the local winery would fill up your jug for 2 Euro, and it was delicious — implying that anything that inexpensive here was less than ideal,” he says. “We are seeing this influx of very consciously made 750-ml or 1-liter bottles that are around $25 or less and perfect for two people on a weeknight. Your Tuesday night wine can be affordable and made well! Hopefully we will see this more, and an influx of new drinkers who realize wine can be amazing at an amazing value.”
2. Wines with a Travel Tie-In
With COVID travel restrictions easing, more people traveled the world in 2022, with Mediterranean regions specifically seeing a boom in tourism.
Peachin had more requests for wines from Portugal, Greece, and Sicily for just that reason.
“Whatever regions are trending in travel tend to gain popularity in wine sales,“ she says. “This summer, people traveled again after a couple of years of COVID, and when they returned, they wanted to drink the wines they drank on vacation. “
Janeen Jason, sommelier at VinoTeca, Inman Park in Atlanta, echoes that, as she received more requests for Iberian wines from Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. She says the best part of those wines is that they’re also a great value.
“There’s less overhead that allows great pricing for a number of styles of wine that can easily be comparable to other international varietals,” Jason says.
Due to the nature of the location of Stamp’s restaurant and shop in Napa, he also saw travel playing a role in the wines people purchased.
“We are in the heart of downtown Napa, and we take care of locals, day-trippers from the Bay Area, and visitors from all over the world on a daily basis,” he says. “Tourists want to drink local, and locals want to drink something that’s, well, not local. People from elsewhere in the Bay Area usually just want to drink cool wines, regardless of their place of origin. So we have an eclectic mix.”
And, after a day of tasting Napa Cabs, people are ready to try something from somewhere else, Stamp says.
“We sell mostly Californian and European wines, but the borders of ‘classic’ Europe are definitely expanding,” he says. “Whenever we run Hungarian Kadarka by the glass, it is an unbelievable success — especially when you’ve been drinking Cabernet all day — and we do well with German Silvaner, Greek whites, Sicilian whites, and Mencia from Spain.”
3. Minority-Owned Wines
It’s well known that the wine industry has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to better representation of people of color and women. So, it’s not surprising that customers are coming in and asking to support minority-owned or minority-made wines and wine shops specifically.
The top three wines sold this year in Sunshine Foss’ wine shop Happy Cork in Brooklyn, N.Y., were: Black Girl Magic, Sun Goddess wines, Kumusha wines, and Wade Rosé.
For Foss’ shop, this isn’t a trend; it’s building and supporting a larger community that she’s a part of. Since opening its doors in March 2019, Happy Cork has become a travel destination for all to experience a large selection of black and minority-owned wines and spirits.
Foss says her shop has also made wine more approachable and accessible to more people.
“We had customers who would outright say to us that they didn’t feel like drinking wine was for our community simply because we have not been readily exposed to great wines; accessibility just has not been there,” she says. “So with Happy Cork, there’s a comfortability to try these brands, ask our team questions, etc. It has definitely introduced a large customer base to the world of wine, and we pride ourselves on being able to advance many customers’ palates.”
4. All the Bubbles
As more people started having larger gatherings for the first time in years, sparkling wines of all kinds were also big sellers.
Oyediran calls bubbles an “alluring” category.
“There are so many different styles and price points,” he says. “There’s a fun culture around popping and pouring bubbles in a place inherently as celebratory as Charleston.”
Stamps says all sparkling wines, but especially Champagne, are popular at Compline.
Prosecco under $15 was the most purchased wine of 2022 for Dandelion Wine & Dandy Wine — and has been in that spot for several years now, Peachin says.
“Prosecco is often purchased for events and also used in larger batch recipes, like mimosas, spritzes, punches, etc.,” she says.
5. The (Still) Basics
In addition to sparkling wines, the fundamental basics of still wine also did well.
“People are still asking for the most common varieties: Pinot Noir, Cab, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay,” Peachin says. “Seems like the regions are learned first, and then the varieties follow.”
Jason noticed that blends are always popular and are heavily requested in her shop.
“Most people who ask for a red blend want a wine that’s smooth, full, and easy to drink,” she says. “Usually it’s from the New World. I like to introduce guests to traditional blends like Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux, or Priorat.”
One basic not on this list? Rosé.
“Rosé seemed to finally plateau this year, although that may have had as much to do with delayed arrivals from Europe as anything else,” Stamp says. “It’s got a clearly defined season that aligns neatly with the time in which your parents could wear white pants.”
That said, it might encourage people to shift their idea of what’s considered “rosé season” to later in the year — at least, that’s what Jason hopes.
“Luckily, Thanksgiving is the best day for rosé consumption because it goes with the meal,” she says.
6. Orange Wine
What might have taken rosé’s place this year? Orange wine, AKA skin contact white.
” Orange wine’s popularity is the fastest-growing category we’ve ever seen,” Peachin says. “It has surpassed rosé this year!”
Stamp said offering orange wines has definitely pleased a portion of his clientele — and he expects that to continue.
“Orange wines will continue to make a small (but vocal) segment of the wine-drinking universe happy,” he says.
Jason said it’s all about orange wine – and she has more guests asking about them and the larger context of natural wine than ever before.
“Some will pick up the bottle because it looks cool,” she says. “Then I explain what it is, and they either approve or pass.”
7. Chillable Reds
Another category people are asking about more? Chillable reds.
“‘Chilled reds as a category is gaining speed,” Peachin says. “So much so that we have as many light reds in the fridge as we do rosé.”
While any red is technically “chillable,” Peachin says this category refers more to “glou glou,” a French term that translates to “glug glug” for lighter, lower alcohol, lower tannin and juicy wines that go down easy. She says the uptick in its popularity is long overdue.
“Perhaps first categorized by red wines from the Loire, but since have spread across the world, there are ’glou glou’ wines made everywhere from California to Australia to Chile to Austria,” she says. “I can’t think of a region that doesn’t have one.”
Oyediran also has seen an uptick in super light reds like Pais from Chile.
8. Quality Non-Alcoholic Wines
For the first time, many boutique wine shops added not just one but multiple non-alcoholic (NA) wines to their shelves to meet consumer demand.
In fact, Jason dubs 2022: “the year of the non-alcoholic beverage.”
“2022 was the first year we offered NA wine because this category is famous for being terrible!” she says. “There are a number of companies that have dedicated their time to perfecting this drink. Wineries are making good efforts to remove alcohol and keep the integrity of the wine (which is the most difficult).”
This was the first year Jason saw quality options for people who wanted to skip the booze.
“A lot of NA beverages have too much sugar or artificial flavors to achieve the goal of matching flavors,” she says. “It’s like adding too much salt to dinner, and now everything is ruined!”
VinoTeca now carries about eight NA options, split between cans and bottles. Usually, they’re sought after by someone who’s pregnant or a gift for someone that is. Occasionally, it’s someone who doesn’t drink anymore or is cutting back, she says.
“In the next year, I see us with more options as products get better (which they will),” Jason says. “As long as they taste good and are the right price, we’ll give it a shot.”
9. Lower-Alcohol Wines
And, following along with the NA wine trend, there are also more requests specifically for lower-alcohol wines, Stamp says.
“We continue to hear more requests for ‘low alcohol’ wines,” he says. “Sometimes we even get a number — maximum 12.5%, say — but customers want the wines to be dry, too.”
He says that dry wines with a moderate degree of alcohol continue to appeal to many different types of wine drinkers — and there are more bottles than ever to fit the bill.
“That type of wine was once exclusively European,” he says. “Now it’s just as likely to come from the West Coast or elsewhere in the world.”
10. Whatever Wines Wine Pros Are Digging
Here’s a trend that independent wine shop owners may enjoy most of all: customers seeking out something new and different — and trusting the recommendations of who they’re buying from.
White loves a curious and open shopper.
“I can’t count how many regulars come into the shop and say: ‘I liked that one; what should I have next? I want something different,’” he says. “Rarely do they go back to the same bottle, and to see them get even more excited when I mention an obscure varietal from an obscure place is really rewarding.”
The question, White really likes to hear? “What are you excited about?” he says.
“I think it speaks volumes about the direction we’re hopefully headed in as an industry,” he says. “You know me, you like me, you trust me.”
Wine Trends to Look for in 2023
While most of the wine pros we talked to expect the trends of 2022 to continue for our next collective trip around the sun, there are a few categories they have their sights on expanding in 2023.
Fewer Big Name Brands
Foss hopes people take their interest in discovering new wines to the next level by trying lesser-known bottles.
“More natural wines, unique varietals and blends, smaller-batch wine brands, etc.,” she says.
Uncommon Grapes in Common Areas
Winemakers around the globe are doing new things in new places.
“I think we will see more uncommon grapes in common areas,” Jason says. “Pinotage in Cali? Yes, there is.”
Cider and Other Fruit Wines
Who says “wine” has to be made from only grapes?
“I’d like to see cider (and even other fruit wines) move more into the spotlight,” White says. “I know it’s heading in a good direction, but it could be better. On top of pseudo-recently getting access to some of the world’s best ciders, we’re starting to see people blending tiny amounts of apple cider and plum wine into their wines, and people seem to have a little trouble wrapping their heads around it. At the end of the day, if it’s good, it’s good!”
Have you tried a Piquette yet? If not, it might be time.
“I think Piquettes will become more popular as the quality gets better,” Jason says. “This is basically the by-product of wine production; a beverage you make with the leftover must that creates a low-ABV bubbly drink.”
White would like to see fewer labels – and we’re not talking about the labels on the bottles exactly.
“I feel like there’s an unnecessary division between ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’ wines,” he says. “Most ‘traditional’ wines I love are made as ‘naturally’ as what is really popular these days, so I’m always confused. Why can’t it just be the recognition of good wine that’s made with good intentions for everyone involved? A good natural wine shop and a good wine shop should essentially be the same thing!”
One thing everyone wants to see happen in the New Year? Customers staying hungry — and thirsty — to learn about and ultimately buy more wine.
“I am very impressed with the knowledge guests bring with them as they shop,” Jason says. “There is more information available for wine than ever which makes it easy to sell a guest wine.”
No matter what’s in your glass, here’s to a new (wine) year ahead, all!