What is in store for the drinks business in 2022?
This one is going to be like squid games with booze; scary and filled with opportunities.
As Yogi Berra once said: “It’s tough to make predictions. Especially about the future.” But here goes:
M&As all day
Some big players (RNDC ring a bell?) are coming to town in NY and we will see a grand bloodsport among the big companies to grab producers, companies, spirits brands, etc.
Hot take: It’s going to be like the colosseum and squid games combined with booze. Also, expect a company to be bought in a merger/acquisition that will surprise all of us. Who will it be?
NoLo alcohol products are going to go wild, proliferating like Rosé did a decade ago and solidifying itself as a real segment in the markets.
There is already a small but real craze for manufactured de-alc’d wines, but those that see beyond the “wine alternative” frame and jump in more fully are going to be on a sales rocket ship.
Hot Take: #NoLo is going to be much bigger than most people think. It potentially combines the cultural pull of Rosé and Natural Wine (i.e. people like us drink things like this) and La Croix (we don’t know what is actually different about this soda but we buy it and drink it). Also, the #NoLo producers that get the texture and flavor right will win huge.
Orange Burns Hotter than Rosé
Orange wine ascends even further to eat into even more of the Rosé market share.
There will continue to be a strong downward pressure in price towards private labels and a pressure on producers from their import partners to make orange wine to fulfill market demand (even though they don’t normally produce orange wine in their area).
Hot Take: The lower priced mainstreamed orange wines continue to be on fire, while the higher priced more serious orange wines will remain on the fringe outer universe. That universe includes the common refrain of shall we close out?/OMG they bought that?/what do we do with this stuff?/it is so allocated…
Look for natural wine producers to produce wines from areas that they do not own, rent or even farm vines.
This will be cloaked under the “collab or collaboration” term and it is going to be rampant; directly related to recent vintage problems (frost, vineyard difficulties, etc.).
Hot Take: The larger truth that natural wine is a business now and the scale to match upward demand is a real concern for those who want to grow their business.
Fake Natural/False Natural/Fast Natural*
All of my invented terms above apply to the dark side…the commercialization of Natural Wine – and was predicted by the late Joe Dressner many years ago on his blog, Captain Tumor Man (Read my Fast Natural take along with his manifesto here).
The irony of the Natural wine movement is that you can go into a store today and see many wines that do not fulfill the promise of natural wine and are sold as Natural Wine.
Hot take: These wines capitalize on the bigger transition happening in natural wine from tribe to a brand with half-truths, heavy-handed marketing and sleight of hand to flimflam the curious drinking public. How do you feel about that?
The Repositioning of the Sommelier/Bev Director
2022 will be filled with just as much movement and job-shifting as 2021, if not more. What will also remain is that the the position of the sommelier and beverage director will be occupied more often by the general manager/owner/assistant manager and the major operators will be in a regular search for sommeliers to run beverage programs often.
Hot take: Many sommeliers will be getting their very first chance at a beverage director job. And, if you are a skilled sommelier, you will be in a prime position…
You down with NFTs?
Not sure if you caught the Liger-Belair NFT launched by Acker this year, but this is something to prep for – blockchain and NFT’s are coming are going to blast into the drinks space like a billionaire with a space travel company.
Hot Take: Gary V alone will make this a thing. I would pay close attention…it is going to be a vibrant space.
The Next Big Wine Tech Thingy?
The Wineglobe (it’s insta-famous already…@wine.globe)
A few top producers are already using the globe and that alone will attract a larger group fast. Expect to see the Globe in cellars a lot more. Promising “pure expression, less reduction and less so2” in wines for producers is like saying let’s take the Summer and relax in Mallorca…it’s really hard to say no.
Bigger than Caterpillar? The Monarch Tractor brings AV to WIne.
Developed by Carlo Mondavi and friends, the Monarch tractor could be a game-changer. Especially since the goal is sustainability and it is driver optional. Imagine if organic farming included robot labor?
Pix Wine – The Discovery Platform for Wine
Many have tried to create the through line from wine to consumer and failed to come through. How could one resist? The race to connect consumer to wine and cross the streams of wine and tech is the white whale of the industry. Pix Wine has gotten a lot of play and for good reason — they have assembled a hell of a team. I am in. After a conversation with CEO Paul Mabray, it’s tough not to believe that they have this all figured out.