A home-brewed bottle of greengage wine, encased in an edible sugar bottle or a compostable papaya membrane, purchased via iris recognition and delivered instantly by drone.
This scenario isn't fodder for a science fiction novel, but how we ourselves might expect to consume wine in the not-so-distant future, according to new research.
To celebrate its 30th birthday, specialist wine merchant Armit Wines has partnered with food and drink 'futurologist' Dr. Morgaine Gaye to predict the future of wine and to "gaze into the crystal ball of vinification". The trends she has predicted are both practical and fantastical.
"Food and drink doesn't exist in a vacuum. Humans are aspirational and driven towards new things for any number of reasons economic, political and geographic," she says. "Things are always shifting, and we can never say everything will remain as it is."
Compostable, non-plastic glasses made from corn starch will come to the fore
This applies, as she shows, to the wine industry. So, from home-brewed wine to edible wine bottles and shiraz ice-cream, here's how you can expect to enjoy wine over the next three decades...
Edible glasses and bottles
"When it comes to packaging, compostable, non-plastic glasses made from corn starch will come to the fore. The 'glass' is fully-compostable, so festival-goers can drink on the go while doing their bit for the planet. Edible bottles will also help counteract packaging waste," explains Dr Morgaine.
"Wine can be bottled in an edible sugar substitute such as isomalt. The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa, has started developing edible membranes from papaya, complementing wine tasting profiles with the flavour of the vessel itself, bringing a whole new meaning to wine pairing."
Iris recognition ID vending machines
"Shops and websites will no longer be the only way we will buy wine. Premium vending machines, similar to those in Japan, will dispense alcohol using iris recognition-technology to identify if the consumer is of legal drinking age.
"After the first purchase, the machine will record personal preferences, to make recommendations for future purchases.
"You'll be identified with your iris for everything eventually. It will know everything about you. That's just one of the ways that technology will become seamless in our lives. It's contentious - there are problematic questions here about how technology gets information about who we are, and what wine we like. But it will be able to perfectly identify the our tastes."
Drinks are increasingly earthy or bitter, and we're seeing a lot more fermentation with a sour taste
New flavour profiles
"In the trajectory of wine, we've got a lot more oaky and smoky. Younger females are now more interested in whisky - that peaty taste was once very unpopular, but now it's sought after.
"As a species, we're gravitating towards different flavours. Drinks are increasingly earthy or bitter, and we're seeing a lot more fermentation with a sour taste. Black pigmented foods like burnt charcoal and black sesame are coming to the forefront," suggests Dr Morgaine.
Charcoal wines and floral flavour profiles are coming to the fore
"Meanwhile, in order to produce local wine in non-grape growing regions, seasonal fruits such as damson, greengage, and Mirabelle plums along with nostalgic floral flavours like rose and violet - the Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 - will come into play in Europe. Further afield, the complex flavours of the horned melon or African cucumber will lend themselves to an indigenous New Zealand wine portfolio.
"Replacing traditional information labels, brands will produce label-less bottles that smartphones can scan to get detailed information on how, when and where it was made, using QR codes and AR [augmented reality]. We will also see a greater variety of shapes, sizes and materials that will enable brands to become much more distinctive and give greater stand-out on shelf.
We're inundated with information - there's so much to read all the time. The information we actually want is almost lost - with wine, we really just need to know the grape and the percentage in the first instance."
"There's kudos connected to making things like sourdough bread for yourself, and knowing where it comes from. We're interested in provenance, the stories behind our wine. In our culture, we like to talk about new experiences, and to feel that we're the among the first to try something that nobody else has had," explains Dr. Morgaine.
"The UK'S increasingly temperate climate is ideal for growing grapes; this, paired with an increasing appetite for knowing the source of our produce will contribute to wine lovers growing and sharing their own home-made 'craft wine'. This follows the success of British wine brands like Digby Fine English, Chapel Down, Nyetimber and prestigious champagne brands such as Taittinger producing their own English wine in Kent."
"Instant wine delivery via drones will eventually become the norm, with retailers capable of depositing products at specific, local drone sites for click and collect. This digital service will avoid congestion issues and out of hours business to deliver a much more immediate service.
"This will thrive in the hospitality industry as restaurants and bars look to order at times convenient to them, such as after service. Oenophiles with cash to flash will also have instant delivery of fine wines to exotic locations at a moment's notice.
"In line with the shift from global to local and small-batch production, this also means we'll enjoy more direct relationships with people making the wine, rather than going through an intermediary. Subscriptions and drone deliveries will come direct from source, and are more easily accredited."
The sharing economy
"Rather than drinking alone to unwind, cultural drinking habits will be dictated by the rise of the 'sharing society', one which puts more focus on collaborative cooking, food growing and communal dining, creating multiple meal times and occasions to share. This is something to celebrate: the fact that we are eating out more often brings with it many more socially-acceptable opportunities throughout the day to the imbibe a glass of wine in the company of friends and family."
Curious consumers, drinking less
The British will drink less alcohol but enjoy better-quality products that are produced locally. "We have clearly seen the trend for drinking less, but better," explains Kirsten Kilby, managing director of Armit Wines.
Dr Morgaine agrees: "Our palettes are changing. We're more sensitive and developed, and looking to look for distinctions and nuances in wine. The same goes for chocolate: we're looking for the distinctions between different beans and different grapes, and we want to know about the different ways food and drink is made, from vine-to-glass as well as from bean-to-bar. Any old bottle of plonk won't cut it anymore - the new generation just won't buy it.
New uses for wine
"We're seeing more wine poured over ice, and more interesting wine cocktails. There's a crossover with drinking vinegars and the lines are blurring between all of those things. The ways in which wine can be used is changing and becoming wider: we're seeing chardonnay ice cream, Shiraz cocktail nuts - wine is showing up in food in lots of new ways, which isn't typical. It's a step beyond rum and raisin. Previously, we wouldn't have expected that tannic profile to be found in ice cream."
By Madeleine Howell
May 15, 2018
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