The owner of a high-end wine shop in Dallas was just as surprised as I was: “I don't know quite why it's happening, but I do know my customers want to drink lighter,” Harris Polakoff told me. “It ramped up this summer, but it has been going on for at least a year. Their palates are changing, and I've had to change the way I buy wine.”
Which may be a revolutionary development, given how much a part of wine high alcohol has been for more than a decade. What’s happened and why, after the jump:
But that’s just part of what happened:
• Cooler growing seasons in California, the epi-center of high alcohol wine, over the past couple of years. Cooler weather means less ripe grapes, which means it’s more difficult and more expensive get high alcohol in wine.
• Declining influence of those critics who rewarded high alcohol wines with high scores. Younger consumers don’t always know who they are and don’t necessarily have the money to buy the wines they like, even if they would know who they are.
• The recession. High alcohol wines, as noted, are usually more expensive, and we know what happened to expensive wine during the recession.
• Changing palates. Consumers, and especially younger consumers, are more willing to experiment, says Jensen Cummings of Denver’s Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar. They’re looking for different wines, be it local or unusual varietals, than they used to.