This week’s wine news: The end of the U.S. wine boom, plus the profitability of organic wine and returning wine gifts
• Is the fat lady singing? Those of us who rely on facts instead of “this is the way it’s always been” to parse the wine business got more bad news last week. “Two measures suggest that the U.S. market for wine may have peaked – or at least paused. There has been a reduction in the average consumption per head of wine in the last few years, coupled with a reduction in the number of very frequent wine drinkers – that is, those drinking wine on a near daily basis.” This, from a report by the Wine Intelligence consultancy, confirms what has been reported elsewhere – the 40-year-old U.S. wine boom seems to be over. What happens next, as more producers and retailers chase fewer consumers, is anyone’s guess. I’m going to write about this quite a bit over the next year; it’s probably the most important trend in wine in this country since the fighting varietals of the 1970s.
• Not much of a market? Organic wine, whether it’s labeled as organic, made with organic grapes, or farmed bio-dynamically, has never been much of a factor in the U.S., and certainly not the way organics are for tomatoes and the like. This article from the Western Farm Press trade magazine is about as technical as you would expect from something called Western Farm Press, but the gist is that growing organic grapes is not easy and not necessarily profitable. Sheep grazing for weed control, anyone?
• What about the leftover wine? The Wine Curmudgeon, who has insisted that giving wine for a gift should be done with thoughtfulness and considerations, is always impressed when someone else feels the same way. Hence this article from the Courier-Post in Camden, N.J..: Unless “you’re specifically asked to bring wine to contribute [to dinner[, do not be offended if the bottle you bring isn’t opened. Sometimes, wine is specifically chosen to go with the food being served. Although you may bring a perfectly wonderful wine, it may not complement the dishes being served that evening.”