Decades of growth in American wine consumption has included a number of powerful spikes and fads. The 1960s and ’70s were Euro-centric here, with the likes of Chablis, Sancerre, Chianti, Bordeaux and Burgundy helped define wine for Americans, even inspiring domestic winery copycats; meanwhile bottling like Mateus, Landers and Blue Nun proved that specific brands could gain traction.
The “fighting varietal” wines of the 1980s helped shift the wine-mindset of toward grapes over place. Americans proceeded to undergo fruitful love affairs with White Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Merlot, Moscato, Shiraz, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and, most recently, Red Blends and Rosé.
While these trendy wines for the most part have passed their heyday, I like to think of them as surfable wine waves that expanded not just Americans’ enjoyment of wine but also awareness of wine’s varietal, stylistic and geographic range. Thanks to the cycles of distinct wines hailing from diverse places, the entire idea of global wine has become easier to embrace.
American wine drinkers speak of both grapes and places now, and are more open to discoveries, such as Grüner Veltliner from Austria; volcanic-soil reds of Sicily; global Sauvignon Blancs that taste similar but different; and blends that began one place but get emulated with commendable results in others. The wine world is bigger, better and more accessible than ever.