U.S. Wine Consumption Continues to Climb

Wine Store

A still-fragile U.S. economy continued its recovery as the wine industry maintained its upswing to mark the 18th year of growth. Consumer confidence and innovation by producers contributed to these gains. New varietals such as sweet reds and higher end blends have engaged consumers. According to the Beverage Information Group's recently released 2012 Wine Handbook, wine consumption gained 3.0% to reach 312.4 million 9-liter cases in 2011.

Domestic wines continued to outpace imports. The U.S. has a reputation of being a better value than its imported counterparts, so wines from California, Oregon and Washington fared well in 2011. Imports did see some pockets of success, namely wines from Italy, Argentina and Spain. Millennial consumers are also helping the imported category due to their interest in lesser known varietals and willingness to experiment.

High-end varietals saw a significant boost this past year. With more confidence in the recovering economy, consumers are dining out more where higher priced offerings are in demand. Total wine dollar sales grew to $27.8 billion last year, with on-premise accounting for 43.8% — a 2.8% increase from 2010.

"As consumers discover new varietals, regions and price points, overall wine consumption is expected to continue to increase over the next five years," according to Adam Rogers, senior research analyst for the Beverage Information Group based in Norwalk, Conn. "The wine industry is predicted to reach 317.3 million cases by 2012."

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Rioja in the Huffington Post

We are thrilled that Richard Jennings, writer for the Huffington Post, has begun a “Rioja Gems” series, where he focuses on a different winemaker in each piece. His first article “ Rioja Gems Part I: Bodegas Franco-Españolas,” opens up with an endearing narrative of his time spent in Rioja. He speaks very highly of the wines and the history. He wrote an extended version of this article on his personal blog, which you can read here.

Highlights include:

  • I returned home with a deep appreciation and love for this beautiful, long valley, which is producing terrific wines, many of which are also amazing values.
  • In other words, it's ridiculously picturesque. Add to that wonderful food -- largely from delicious, locally produced fruits, vegetables and meats; gracious and warm people; a long, quality winemaking tradition and very serious winemakers. What more can a wine lover ask for?

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Rajat Parr, Mina Group's Wine Director Interview with Rajat Parr, Michael Mina Restaurants

We recently spoke with The Grand Award-winning sommelier Rajat Parr, Mina Group's Wine Director, about wine education, trends and Riojas at his restaurants.

Are guests a bit more adventurous in wine selection than a few years ago?

Today's restaurant wine consumers are very knowledgeable. They are open to trying unfamiliar wines. Our goal is to serve our guests quality wines that are delicious.

What are some examples of great food pairings for Rioja?

I think there are two styles in Rioja. The modern style is flamboyant when young- perfect with lamb or beef. The traditional style is more elegant and works best with game birds (quail, squab, and pheasant).

Are there any challenges in selling Rioja wines?

Yes. The challenge lies in describing the difference between the two styles. Like many regions of the world, the line has become blurred between what is "modern" and what is "traditional." It's hard not to generalize and producer-specific. It is our job, as sommeliers, to be able to accurately define these styles -- even if they don't fall into a "category."

Is value still playing a part in wine selection? If so how do you emphasize value on the list at Michael Mina?

Our sommeliers are very knowledgeable about the content on the list. We listen to the guests' desires and make recommendations accordingly. Many people are looking for value, and thankfully there is a lot out there. From California to Corsica, there are fantastic wines to be had at affordable price points. We encourage our guests to break out of their comfort zone, while sticking within their budget.

What is your idea of a well put together wine list?

It is no secret that my palate leans towards Old World Wines. I love chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah. But I also love riesling, grenache and various blends. This diversity tends to be reflected in the wine lists I create. Having said that, attention to vintage is imperative; I try to source wines from the years that highlight a wine's potential. The best wine lists are balanced and offer quality at fair prices.

header Rioja Trade Events

Bull Running Vibrant Rioja Pure Genius: Running of the Bartenders!

Taste through the DOCa Rioja wine region of Spain at a special Pour Genius seminar led by Rioja Specialist Aaron Gordon and Dominic Venegas. Following the seminar, we challenge you to compete in the Running of the Bartenders — a scavenger hunt filled with local flavor, lively objectives and mucho Rioja wine. The event will be held October 8 at Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts in San Francisco.

Join us and discover why Rioja is Pure Genius! RSVP by Thursday, September 20 to Aaron@vibrantrioja.com.

Event Details:

Pour Genius Rioja Tasting and Seminar, 12pm - 1pm

Running of the Bartenders Scavenger Hunt, 1pm - 4pm

  • Teams of 3 minimum for any FOH employee
  • $3000 grand prize and other prizes

Bull Running Rioja at the Western Hospitality Expo

The annual Western Hospitality Expo welcomed Rioja to the Los Angeles area last month. Vibrant Rioja hosted a "Caterer's Lounge" at the Hilton Anaheim on August 20th -- a unique trade education concept where Rioja team members Bonnie Graves and Viviana Pinzon guided attendees through one on one tastings. The catering and on premise attendees sampled flights of blancos, rosados and tintos grouped into stations by age and style. All selected for their fantastic food friendliness and diverse pairability for catered events, the 10+ wines were all a hit!

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In Store

Interested in creating a rich Rioja program to offer the clientele at your store, restaurant or bar? Vibrant Rioja can generate a customized, results-driven package for your business. Please contact vpinzon@crt-tanaka.com for further information.

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