After a year like 2020, it might be a fool’s game to make predictions about wine (or anything else). With that caveat, here are some of the possible 2021 trends in the local Edmonton wine scene.
The natural wine trend has become firmly established in Edmonton. Many people are purposefully seeking out wines that are natural, sustainable, organic, biodynamic and/or vegan.
Jordan Clemens, managing partner of Clementine and Woodwork, says “We’ll get customers who ask for natural wine and it’s not because they’re vegan or worried about pesticides.”
Look for natural wines at Clementine, Woodwork, Yarrow and Smokey Bear.
Virtual and Physically Distant Tastings
Things went virtual in 2020 and wine tastings were no exception. Several local shops and restaurants started offering online tastings, in which participants buy the wines ahead of time and then join a Zoom call to learn more.
“In pre-COVID times, tastings were a big part of our business — we’d do a dozen tastings a month,” says Stephen Richmond, owner of Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants. Though Vines resumed in-person, physically distanced tastings in the latter half of 2020, it intends to continue its virtual tastings indefinitely, as it seems like online events will be the norm well into 2021. “The number of people who are actually comfortable coming out to in-person tastings is still fairly low,” Richmond says, but adds that, at the time of this writing, his store no longer offers in-person tastings. Other places doing virtual wine tastings include Liquor Select, Prestige Wines & Spirits and RGE RD.
No longer relegated to sushi joints and a few dusty bottles in a back corner of the liquor store, sake has gone mainstream. “I think sake will be a sustained trend,” says Margaux Burgess, proprietor of Lingua Vina Ltd. “There has been a definite increase in premium offerings in the market over the past couple years and it has become a lot more common to find options outside of Japanese restaurants. It’s also promising to see more and more retailers keeping sake in the cooler, as is done in Japan.”
In Edmonton, look for sake at our growing number of izakayas, including Shōjō, Dorinku, Tomo and Ikki, as well as at Baijiu and Clementine; Partake even pairs it along-side its rustic French cuisine.
Disruptions and Surprises
The COVID pandemic disrupted supply chains across the world, which translated to local issues with wine inventory levels and product availability. Distribution issues were largely resolved in the latter half of 2020, but another big wave of the pandemic could bring chaos.
“There are a lot of questions about avail-ability and distribution in the face of COVID,” says Stacey-Jo Strombecky, sales representative for Renaissance Wine Merchants.
If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected. We’d be wise to carry this mantra into 2021 and beyond.
“Everything has been up in the air, knocked sideways with COVID,” Richmond says. “So your guess is as good as mine.”
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This article appears in the Winter 2021 issue of Edify.