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The Wine Sisters' Blog

Drink Trends for 2019

Posted on January 3, 2019 by admin


What’s old is new again as 2019 ushers in a fresh year to revisit the stalwart cocktails and wines of yesteryear

by Erin

2019 is a good time to be a wine, cocktail or spirit.

Not that there was ever a bad time, per se, but drink experts seem to agree this is a year of exploration and invention, while simultaneously embracing quality classics.

As the Chief Wino here at The Wine Sisters and our sister company Drink Toronto, I talk to hundreds of people every year through Wine School and our private wine tastings and never before have I seen so many people willing – no, wanting! – to push their cocktail comfort levels and explore their wine wanderlust.

And that got me to wondering, if I was noticing this exciting new curiosity bubbling up with drink lovers, was anyone else? So I asked a few of the best sommeliers I know, Heather McDougall, the General Manager of Montecito Restaurant and By the Glass, and Steven Sousa the Beverage Director of Momofuku their thoughts. I also returned to California-based cocktail expert Prairie Rose of the award winning drinks blog, Bit by a Fox (and previous recipe contributor to this blog) for her spin on the international spirit scene.

What’s hot and just getting hotter?

img_7283Just because 2018 has come to an end, does not mean we bid adieu to all the bevvies we enjoyed last year. In many cases, what is sooo last year, is still very much on fleek for 2019 (we are still saying “on fleek,” right? I haven’t had  chance to look up my 2019 Cool Slang Trends, yet.) Case in point: sparkling wines, natural wines and … let’s just change #roséallday to #rosé.all.the.time shall we?

“Rosé continues to sell very strongly,” says Heather, who last year spear-headed Montecito’s By the Glass room – an exciting project where bottle mark ups are only $30 – always! “More and more guests are now embracing it as a lifestyle, not a seasonal beverage. We have rosé on by the glass year round, but the style evolves as the menu of the seasons changes.”

Steven, who has been with Momofuku since it opened in Toronto in 2012, adds natural wines are here to stay. But, he adds (and I whole heartedly agree), just because a wine is natural, doesn’t mean it’s good. If you’re new to the game it’s wise to seek professional council before proceeding.

“Natural producers who have been making quality wines for a while, those with a good track record are the ones to drink,” Steven advises.

2019 will be the year for….

stratus insta“2019 will be all about brandy, fortified wine and vermouths, and low ABV cocktails,” states Prairie Rose.

“I’m all for lighter, low alcohol wines,” adds Steven, pointing out that lighter body doesn’t always mean simple. “At kojin [the third floor restaurant at Momofuku] we have more Gamay than Cabernet and we’re a steakhouse! I think wines that make you want more, wines that cleanse the palate belong at the dinner table, not big, heavy, alcoholic wines… those make me want to sleep.”

As for my ¢2 cents, I’m also seeing a strong trend towards lower alcohol, or even alcohol-free, drinks (see our Virgin Guide here). Back in the day, staying on the wagon meant an uninspired cranberry and soda, or maybe a virgin Caesar, but now many of our restaurant partners at Drink Toronto (which include Kojin and Montecito) have beautifully designed temperance cocktail lists – and it’s not uncommon for our tour takers to request an entirely booze-free experience, or mix in a couple of non-alcoholic drinks to the tour.

Speaking of tours, both Heather and Steven say they’re seeing a high interest in barstool travelling, exploring both local regions and international.

“I think cooler climate, higher altitude wines will become more prominent … Boca in Piedmont, Valellina, wines from the Savoie (I had a Mondeuse from Michel Grisard that was amazing!)” says Steven.

“Local love!” enthuses Heather. “It is sooooooo refreshing to see it happening here. We are very lucky to live in such close proximity to super dynamic and compelling wine regions and have access to wines that really do make the case for their inclusion on our tables.”

A new spirit for 2019

Photo: Bit by a Fox

Photo: Bit by a Fox

As for cocktails and spirits, Prairie Rose says brandy is the new whisky.

“Brandy seems to be everywhere at the moment – from Cognac and Armagnac to Armenian and domestically made brandy – it is a recent favourite with bartenders and will continue into 2019. We are going to be using it like we have whiskey these last few years.”

She adds the trend towards simpler cocktails, like Manhattans and Martinis continues. “We are getting back to the basics, and appreciating classics.”

Just because cocktail classics are enjoying their return to the spotlight, bartenders aren’t resting on their laurels. New twists and and creative interpretation promise to delight 2019 imbibers.

“It’s really hard to invent something totally new,” admits Steven. “I’ve seen a lot of cool Bitters/ Amaros and vermouths that should keep things interesting on that front. At kojin, we do a variation on a Pisco Sour that guests love.”

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Now THAT'S a #gin & #tonic!

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“Spanish style G&T’s. Good Gin, artisanal tonic and whatever fruit and complimentary herb is in season, served in a wine glass with tonic on the side….. also the Spritz! Tequila soda is the new vodka soda. The Old Fashioned trend is still going strong, but the spirit base is diversifying… Cognac, Rhum, blended spirit bases etc. are now all fair game,” lists Heather.

Restaurants Trends for 2019

local wine glasses beforeAs they say, trends come and go, but how can restaurants turn that cool factor into legitimate staying power? Personally, I’m seeing a lot of innovations like half-priced wine nights, quality cocktail hours, and intriguing specials to attract the ever-fleeting attention of potential customers.  On our Drink Toronto tours, for example, the restaurants we showcase have something specific to offer, a unique offering that sets them apart from the rest. Heather says that’s key to restaurants attracting and retaining a loyal following.

“I am SOOOOOO happy that we have tons of people in this market with big enough balls to make bold statements. Niche restaurants and wine bars that are thoughtfully conceived by steadfast owners confident enough not to be deterred by those that don’t get it.”

“Variety and novelty goes a long way,” echoes Steven. “People are always looking for something new or something that they haven’t tried. I think our market is craving more and we’re finally getting access to more interesting products, I’m really looking forward to 2019!”

We drank what?

curious cafe menuSo now that we’ve nailed down what we can look forward to drinking in 2019, let’s take a minute to say good bye and good riddance to the a drink trend of 2018. Heather and Steven are unanimous.

Blue wine.

“I hope I never see a blue wine, that should definitely stop before it even starts.” says Steven.

“Blue wine? Yikes. Has someone actually brought that disaster into Ontario?” adds Heather.

*some answers have been edited for clarity and length


Posted in Cocktails, crowd pleaser wines, learning about wine, Liquor, Red Wine, Rosé, sparkling wine, Under $20, White Wine, wine review | 0 Comments

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