2021 is going to be an interesting year for the global wine industry, and the Italian industry in particular. The pandemic changed every prediction that we might have had for 2020 and we’ve spent much of the year watching manufacturers scramble to adjust to the “new normal”.
2021 brings with it the potential for a fresh start, in some ways.
However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we’re still in the grips of the pandemic and nobody’s certain when this thing will come to an end. As a result, the wine industry as a whole is still waiting to get back to a “business as usual” state.
And that means 2021 may be another interesting year in terms of trends!
Still, we’ve done some research and started looking into what it likely to happen over the course of the year. And this is what we see as being the major influencing factors for wine in 2021.
Trend #1 – Low Sugar Wines Will Become More Prominent
We’ve spoken before about the more recent trends towards organic and all-natural wines. Younger consumers, in particular, seem to be veering away from traditional wines and towards options that offer lighter tones and, in many cases, less sugar.
While we don’t see this becoming a dominant trend in terms of changing the entire wine industry, we do believe that the “natural” and “sugar-free” niches will expand even further in 2021. A segment of younger drinkers will continue to push for low sugar wines, which will create opportunities for producers who are willing to experiment with lighter wines and more natural preservation methods.
Trend #2 – Online Shopping Will Maintain its Growth
Ecommerce may have been the most successful industry to emerge from 2020. With so many people stuck at home, the growth of online shopping exceed even the boldest of industry predictions made during the latter stages of 2019. Simply put, 2020 was the year of the online shopping explosion. Millions of people who’d never bought online before finally gave it a try and they soon discovered that whatever caused them to be hesitant in the past was unfounded.
Such was the case with the wine industry.
Producers and retailers quickly scrambled to set up online shopping portals and the ability to sell wine online has played a huge role in the Italian wine industry managing to maintain some relative strength.
But now comes 2021. And with it comes the likelihood that shopping centres will full re-open at some point during the year. Will this lead to online shopping numbers dropping to what they were at the beginning of 2020?
We see that as unlikely.
While 2021 will likely see much slower growth in online shopping, we don’t believe we will see a decline. And this means that Italian wine manufacturers and retailers will continue to see the web as a viable point of sale in the coming year.
Trend #3 – Rosé Prosecco Will Take Off
So this is more of a prediction than a trend, but we think it stands a chance of happening.
Towards the end of 2020, “Pink Prosecco”, otherwise known as Rosé Prosecco, finally became officially recognised by the DOC. And with that recognition comes a legitimacy that will likely lead to more producers making the stuff.
Now, Prosecco is already one of the most popular Italian wines in the UK and the USA, as well as in Italy. This new type of Prosecco offers something a little different, with that novelty likely to play a part in its success. Furthermore, it provides those who aren’t big lovers of white wine with an option that’s a little closer to red without losing that Prosecco makeup.
Look for this type of wine to make a big splash in 2021.
Trend #4 – Portugal Will Make a Splash
We have an interesting stat to share with you.
In September 2020, sales of Portuguese wines in the United States shot up by a massive 35.1%. And in the months that followed, the numbers kept growing.
Most argue that it’s the quality-to-price ratio. Portuguese wines are more affordable than wines from the other major European niches, while still offering a high level of quality. When coupled with a consumer base that’s a little more careful about how much its spending and a world where shopping online is more popular than ever before, we have the makings of a new major player.
Portugal likely won’t move past Spain, France of Italy as Europe’s dominant wine producer.
But this increased interest from the United States and elsewhere will see it solidify its fourth-place position in 2021.
Trend #5 – Wine Tourism Will Still Struggle
Unfortunately, this trend sits at the sadder end of the spectrum.
The simple fact is that we’re a long way from coming out of the pandemic situation and getting back to life as normal. In particular, we don’t believe that 2021 will bring with it freedom to travel, which will make booking vacations a definite hardship.
That’s going to hit the wine tourism industry hard.
People simply won’t be able to visit from other countries, which means that many estates will have to put a pause on tours.
Still, all is not lost here.
We do see 2021 as the year where such companies start to make inroads in terms of connecting on a deeper level with consumers online. For example, some winemakers have already set up virtual tours for people to take and it wouldn’t surprise us to see some winemakers holding webinars or finding other ways to strengthen bonds with consumers in 2021.
That will bode well for the future as these bonds will lead to more tourism, when the world “reopens”.
The Final Word
In truth, we’ve only covered a few of the potential trends that may affect the global wine industry in 2021. Some of these are direct results of the pandemic situation, whereas others, such as the potential rise of Pink Prosecco, show us that innovation is still possible, even in the worst of circumstances.
If nothing else, we look forward to what 2021 has to bring and we can’t wait to share this year in Italian wine with you.