By Tom Firth and Linda Garson
What’s to come on the beverage scene in 2019?
Will it be a continuation of the trends we’ve seen this year and last, or will we see some new and dynamic trends emerge?
- First off, local craft spirits are here to stay. But several years on since the rules changed that fuelled this craft boom, we’re expecting fewer new openings, and further consolidation of existing producers as they settle into house styles.
- Interest in cocktails stays strong, which could lead to more unusual expressions of spirits. Will we see locally made amaro or aquavit? Hopefully! They’re already being produced in B.C. We can also expect to see add-ons of spices and botanicals with white spirits, to mix your own.
- As more local distilleries reach the three-year mark, brown spirits will start taking centre stage. We’ve already seen the second release of Eau Claire’s whisky, and soon we expect most craft distillers to follow suit with their whiskies – and can’t wait to see how these come along.
- For beer, we’re enjoying a near embarrassment of riches, virtually every bar or watering hole has Alberta-made beer available, and it’s easier than ever before to share a great glass of something locally made.
- On the wine front, folks are still interested in wines that represent good value, but express that sense of place. To that end, white wines from around the world utilizing indigenous or uncommon varieties should continue to excite the palate and stock cellars.
- Not to be outdone, red wines will hopefully continue to move ever so slowly away from the over-the-top fruit bombs or velvety reds, and this might be the year for gamay or tempranillo.
- We love the “drink less but better” movement, and we can expect to see more premium wines in the market from countries better known for their entry-level offerings, such as Chile and Argentina.
- Orange and natural wines are here to stay, and organic continues to gain traction – but watch out for Japan – more premium sakes, whiskies, and wines too are on the way!
- If we are lucky, consumers will continue to discover wines of Spain, Portugal, and other parts of Europe too, while Canadian wine continually improves and is comparable in quality and expression if you are willing to pay more than about $25 a bottle. British Columbia’s wines are still widely available to us, and well suited to our cuisine and interest in “local” products.
- Maybe this is the year for ease of movement across provincial borders, and “Free My Grapes” becomes a reality. We live in hope – well, it is an election year!