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Food & Dining // Vino Sense
Roberto Viernes

Exciting And Sobering 2013 Predictions

Happy New Year! It’s time again for my predictions in wine and food for the new year. This is going to be another exciting year for wine, as there should be some terrific ones being released, but at the same time a bit challenging for the consumer as prices will continue to rise in 2013, and the quantities will be smaller than normal.

1) Price increases have several causes, including a decrease in supply in recent vintages as well as growing demand in emerging markets such as China, Korea and India. California’s 2010 and 2011 vintages were short and will be sharply affected. Don’t be surprised to see some of the lower-end brands perhaps blending fruit from South America, Australia or even Spain to meet demand and keep pricing reasonable.

2) The next region to be fashionable is going to be … California. What? Yes, there will be pockets of production in California that are going to be featured as the next “big” thing. Paso Robles is really hitting its stride with Cabernet, and the Syrah planted there is inspiring. Italian varietals grown in the Santa Rita Hills will be given more than a cursory inspection. And more esoteric varietals such as Gruner Veltliner and Chenin Blanc from California will be given their due. Gruner Veltliner? Yup, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

3) The trend for sweeter-style wines will wane like the sparkle in a Moscato d’Asti – not! Sweeter-style wines are still on the upswing. Moscato d’Asti is just one of them, but there are rose versions still coming, and the not-so-dry red wines that will be on the market to capture a specific demographic of the alcohol-drinking public. These wines appeal to many younger drinkers and neophytes. The entry point from soft drinks to hard drinks is in this flavor zone, and wine companies know it. I’m just hoping that many of them graduate to the next level of truly dry wines.

4) Last year, low-caloric beverages were all the rage.

They combined the absolution of fewer calories with wine flavor. This year you will see a crossover of wine with energy. Energy fortifying drinks are not new, but ones with wine flavorings or using wine as a base are sure to come. Think of it as the next fortified drink. Instead of Port or Madeira, they will be Zinfreak Energy or Riesling Boost. Yet another way for wine producers to gather more disciples.

5) One sobering prediction for 2013 is that our state government again will look to increase our taxes on alcoholic beverages. It is almost like clockwork, but I am sure that there will be another budget gap that it will ask us to fill by paying more in taxes. There will be much testimony and inertia, but it is coming.

Recommendations: 2009 Periquita Red Reserva ($11) This red from Portugal reminds me of a blend of Cabernet and Grenache. It has some really dark blackberry flavors like Cabernet, but with some spice and strawberry like Grenache. It’s just plain delicious and a real value. 2009 Luna Vineyards Merlot ($29)

Better known for its terrific Pinot Grigio, Luna produces a very good Merlot as well. It is lusciously smooth with tons of black fruit and a good dollop of sweet vanillin, and a long, pleasing

A delicious red from Portugal that’s a real value

A luscious, smooth Merlot

aftertaste.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. Email rviernes@southernwine.com or follow him on Twitter @Pinotpusher.

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