This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, May. 9, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080509.php.
The World of Wine in 2058
Fifty years ago, the top-selling wines at London's Berry Bros. & Rudd (and likely throughout the UK and much of the U.S.) were German, fortified and sweet wines.
"It's strange to see how fashions have changed," reports the respected London wine merchant, "BBR" for short. "now, they don't even feature on the best-sellers list. Fifty years ago, it would have been unthinkable to take wine lessons 'virtually' or predict supermarket shelves would be stocked with wines from China, Brazil, India or New Mexico."
If the world wine market has changed so much in the past 50 years, what wonders might the next half-century hold?
Based on interviews with its wine experts, including four Masters of Wine, the 310-year-old London firm has prepared an intriguing report, A Glimpse into the World of Wine in 2058.
"So, what will 2058 look like?" In an introduction to the report, BBR Chairman Simon Berry summarized: "We looked at future trends in fine wine (our specialty) but also in volume production - wines for under £10. Whether it's the 'Rise of China' or the 'New New World,' 'Big Brand Booze,' 'Floating Vines' or 'Sommelier Bees', this report aims to give you a glimpse into the world of wine in 2058."
Berrys has kindly given me permission to make the full 12-page report
In the world of "volume wine" - modest, mass-produced wines intended for sale at £10 in the UK - Berry's experts foresee radical changes in sources and marketing. China and India are likely to become major world players, and climate change may redraw the wine map of Europe. "Countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia and Poland could feature more prominently, especially when they attract investment." Furthermore, Canada - now ranking No. 32 in world wine production, "could start to rival its American neighbour by 2058."
The future could be disastrous for Australia, though. With droughts, water shortages and increasing heat Down Under, Berry's predicts that by 2058 "Australia will be too hot and arid to support large areas of vine. It will no longer be renowned for volume wine and will become, instead, a niche producer, concentrating on hand-crafted, terroir-driven, fine wine."
"Big Brand Booze"
With Foster's, the biggest all-Australian wine company, already starting a trend by sourcing wine for its popular Lindemans brand from South Africa and Chile, BBR foresees "big brand wine" being marketed by grape or blend rather than from a particular country.
"Grapes will be gathered from all over the world and blended to suit consumers' tastes. Increasingly, consumers may recognise wine brands (and the flavours associated with them) in the same way they do spirit brands such as Smirnoff. ... Rather than ordering a glass of Australian Shiraz, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Californian Merlot, it could be commonplace to ask for a 'Lindemans Light', 'Waitrose White' or 'Rosemount Red'."
Broad changes in production methods will be needed to meet growing consumer demand. Berrys predicts vast industrial vineyards growing genetically-modified grapes, and genetically altered yeast to improve fermentation and help produce lower-alcohol wines. What's more, genetically modified vines could be grown hydroponically in vineyards floating offshore in coastal regions.
"Lightening the load"
Watch for the demise of the glass bottle. As retailers and importers seek to cut costs and waste in international shipment, lightweight bottles will replace the heavy glass wine bottle. "In the future, we're likely to see 'wine tankers' crossing our oceans. Bulk shipments of wine could arrive, before being put into plastic or reinforced cardboard containers."
"World Wine Wars"
Rising global demand for fine wines and limited availability of top-tier wines means prices will continue to rise inexorably until fine wine becomes the preserve of the very rich.
Global bidding wars for the top wines and the most sought-after wines, combined with burgeoning interest in fine wine in Asia, South America, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, will create a market so competitive that a case of wine from a great vintage could cost £10 million.
"Alternatives to Cork"
"Berrys believes, despite all the protestations of improvement from the cork industry, it is still outrageous to accept a failure rate even as low as 2 percent in wine closures. Future generations will look back on this era in amazement at the thought that, after all the technological advances made in the vineyard and cellar, we continued to finish off the process by shoving a piece of tree bark in the bottle."
As more modern wineries are moving to the metal screwcap. it will become the standard for the majority of the world's wines.
Alun Griffiths MW predicts, "It is inconceivable we will be using cork in 50 years' time – except for perhaps 1 or 2 percent of very fine wines that still require maturation."
There's more, much more, in the colorful 12-page report. As soon as I can get a location for an online edition - or receive permission to offer it as a download - I'll let you know. In any case, for those who hope to be around in 2058, there's no question that it's going to be a whole new world of wine.
Meanwhile, take time to visit the Berry Bros. & Rudd Website,
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