Traditional is meeting contemporary, as beverages are revamped for a changing palate, pocketbook and generation of consumers.
Benchmark Hospitality International’s “Top 10 Beverage Trends for 2010” shows how the beverage industry is embracing change and satisfying consumers—whether it’s rediscovering retro cocktails or welcoming new wine varietals.
- Unoaked Chardonnays are replacing the big oak wines of the past. By forgoing oak, the Chardonnay grape has the opportunity to flaunt its fruit characteristics. These unoaked wines are easy to enjoy in any setting—with food or without.
- Sauvignon Blanc continues to gain popularity. New Zealand remains the leader in production. However, terroir-influenced Sauvignon Blanc wines are being produced in areas such as South Africa, Chile, California and Virginia, an important note for locavores.
- More obscure grape varieties like Torrontes, Bonarda, Carmenere, Albarino and Chenin Blanc are being embraced today. These typically less expensive varietals are important for today’s cost-conscious consumers.
- Champagne sales are down this year. But sales of sparkling wines such as Spanish Cava, Prosecco and French Cremant are up. These less pricey sparkling wines are popular in creating unique cocktails.
- Sangria is making a comeback. Less expensive wines are commonly blended for this libation and sangria bars are becoming a fashionable alternative to cocktail parties and bloody marys at brunch.
- Retro with a twist. Classic cocktails such as martinis and mojitos are being revamped with fresh and innovative herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. In-house or homemade syrups are being used for infusions, and handcrafted spirits are hitting the mainstream as well.
- Novelty is au courant in cocktails today. Traditional cocktails are being concocted in contemporary ways; for example, wine popsicles and tequila sno-cones.
- Craft beers are hot. “Beer dinners” are increasingly popular, as consumers discover the compatibility of beer with food. Beer cocktails, such as beer margaritas, are also popping up.
- The Slow Food revolution now includes enjoying locally produced beverages. All 50 states have at least one winery, and many are producing herbs and spices for flavoring spirits.
- The popularity of wine and wine-pairing classes is strong and gathering steam. Wine and cheese, wine and herbs, wine and chocolate are examples of current pairings. Dinners are another extremely popular way for the public to learn about the many ways to enjoy and complement wine.