File this one under wanting to be the weatherman. Who doesn't want to make consequence-free prognostications, right? What follow are some haphazard predictions for the world of wine in 2014. And if history is any indicator of future performance, it'll be 2016 before any of these really materialize as nothing ever happens as quickly as you think.
- Online wine sales will explode thanks to Amazon swaggering into the game and a three tier system that refuses to acknowledge changing consumer behavior.
- Moscato drinkers will be dazzled by something else the same way as Moscato distracted them from Pinot Grigio. And chances are the new, short-lived fad will be fueled by a reality TV celebrity doing something obnoxious with a bottle in hand. Who knows, it could even be Riesling's lucky year.
- Hipsters will finally let go of Riesling and find something else to geek out over. Mencia, you could be their new sweetheart.
- Countries like Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Greece will emerge from the shadows and onto the mainstream as respected producers of value-priced (and some serious) wine.
- The craft beer Renaissance will take a big bite out of wine's sales growth, attracting far more new drinkers to its ranks by a wide, wide margin.
- Despite #5, overall wine prices will continue to outpace inflation and wages, also by a wide margin.
- There will be more consolidation in the expensive Napa industry as under-capitalization continues to unwind. In other words, larger holding companies will continue to enjoy picking up over-leveraged wineries at pennies on the dollar. Prices will remain stubborn, however.
- China will continue to prop-up pricing in first and second growth Bordeaux. Or what they believe to be first and second growth Bordeaux.
- Not unrelated to #8, there will be more scandals over counterfeit wines at auction houses.
- An aging Robert Parker will acknowledge that wine scoring is as much subjective as it is objective, causing celebration among sommeliers and anger among wine critics who have adopted his 100 point scoring system. The popularity of the 100 point scoring system, however, will not suffer.