Another habit of this time of year is reading the tea leaves and making predictions. Sometimes this is sensible and rational. Businesses take stock and project. This informs important investment and employment decisions. That's all well and good.
Then there are media predictions, of the sort patently designed to fill gaps in coverage at a time when no one is doing much beyond polishing off the final few slices of Christmas cake. Or making resolutions. To shift those slices of Christmas cake.
However, on rare occasions can predictions strike a chord. Make a stir. Prevail?
I hope Jamie Goode won't mind my picking up on his "startlingly unoriginal post" (his words). Unoriginal, true. Startlingly so? Not very. Touch unfair too. The exercise is; the content (mostly) isn't. And if it is any consolation, if Mr Goode thinks his stab is unoriginal, this is doubly so (but thank you for the inspiration).
Cheap wine will get more expensive. Probably so, but it doesn't take being a commodities trader to come to that conclusion. There's also the unmentioned problem of punitively high alcohol taxes, particularly in Britain. The nub is to come: "Some have suggested that it's a good thing for people to pay more for their wine... [yet it] could lead to a contraction in the market." Boom. My surmise is Mr Goode refers to the same sort of people who welcome a minimum unit price for alcohol, in the hope it will knacker the dirt-cheap volume wines and send consumers running into their mid-range arms. I spelt out why that position is foolish and dangerous here. Mr Goode is right to highlight the inexpediency of dearer wine.
Supermarkets and certain major wine merchants will begin to reap what they've sown. About time. I have also heard a number of "real horror stories from suppliers". And I am encouraged by Mr Goode's mentioning "certain major wine merchants". The most horrific story I've heard recently involved not a diabolic supermarket, but a big, cheery and friendly wine merchant. Don't take long guessing who. The crucial point though is that while suppliers will take their wines elsewhere (when they can afford to), consumers can take their business elsewhere too. Dairy farmers managed a significant victory over the milk prices of certain big supermarkets last summer because of fear of consumer backlash.
Another big year for natural wines. Maybe. I maintain that the natural wine movement can shoot itself in the foot when process is prided more than outcomes. As long as the wine tastes good, bring it on. Red Squirrel Wine will always aim to back minimal-intervention wines that are as delicious as they are sustainable. Thankfully many are.
Say goodbye to Kiwi Sauvignon in the UK. Shame, but fine. Say hello to Brazilian Chardonnay.
Let's welcome some fresh faces in wine communication. Let's. Social media is having a huge impact on the wine industry. It has reduced barriers to entry, for one thing. Red Squirrel Wine could not have reached as many people as we have in such a short period of time without it. It also brings people together, such as in the 12x75 blog's brilliant #7WordWineReview suppers. As long as the industry is mindful that social media such as Twitter is more about talking to oneself (or like-minded people) than truly reaching out to new people, this is all good news. Yet it comes back to Mr Goode's central point: new communicators. That's what is needed to spread the wine word beyond preaching to the converted. And if social media is the conduit, rather than traditional dead-tree media, this is to be welcomed.
The integrity of the remaining professional wine writers will become strained. Bestridden the two worlds of wine blogging and belts-and-braces journalism, Mr Goode is being bravely honest here. I've little to add to this point other than to say the rise of the internet and the pricing transparency created by the likes of Wine-Searcher means it is pretty straightforward to track down even the rarest of interesting wines, who stocks them, and at the keenest prices. It's not always the supermarket.
The wine world will continue to shift away from Europe. Agreed. Partly. Tales of China's inevitable rise are perhaps as boring as they are ubiquitous. Beyond that, there are Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay. Not to mention Argentina, which still exports very little of what it makes. Yet closer to home, you've got what we like to call the 'Re-emerging World'. The oldest of the Old. Countries such as Croatia, Romania and Albania have winemaking heritage that the Bordelais can only dream of. We have to support them, and if that means learning how to pronounce Feteasca Regala, so be it. And that's an easy one.
There will be further polarization in the world of wine. In essence, the middle ground shall collapse as the plonk and the princely diverge. It is indeed a growing problem, but one that for the time being we won't accept is insurmountable. "Finding good, authentic wine on mainstream retail and restaurant lists" might, as Mr Goode supposes, "become increasingly difficult". That's where I hope we, and other like-minded wine merchants willing to take a punt on the genuinely less-than-mainstream but mid-range wines can fill a void. And communicate their value to new wine lovers too.