White Wine, It’s About Time

white wineKathleen Wilcox in Wine Searcher reports that white wine is increasing in popularity.

Wine sales have been in a slump in recent years, with a 5.2 percent decrease in overall wine sales year over year, according to Nielsen IQ. White wine currently holds about 29 percent of the market, and since 2017, white wine has increased its market share by two percentage points.

While wine sales as a whole have gone down 5.2 percent, white wine sales have declined by 3.4 percent.

Growth in the white wine category, on paper, seems to be across the board, with some signs of premiumization on the horizon. The average unit price increased from $13.80 in 2017 to $15.40 in 2022; interestingly, the fastest-growing subcategories on Drizly are less-prominent varieties like Niagara, Aligoté, Cayuga and Macabeo.

In addition to buying more white wine, consumers seem keen to learn more about it too. Here on Wine-Searcher, we’re not seeing the usual shift from searchers for white to red wine during nippier weather. (And the whites they’re looking at are pricier: click prices were up by for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling by 4, 14 and 30 percent, respectively.)

The 2% increase in market share isn’t all that impressive but the unit price increase and the anecdotal evidence marshalled in the article indicate the trend may have legs.

I hope so. White wines are as aromatically expressive as reds and show a remarkable range of aromas and diversity of styles. They deserve to be taken as seriously as red wines.

I’m probably guilty of having a red wine bias—I have reviewed more reds than whites. But I don’t think there is a justification for it. It’s habit more than anything else.

Why are white wines becoming more popular? I think the explanation appears near the end of the article:

“I think one major thing that is sparking the rise of still whites is excitement around pairing food with wine,” says Nicole Marchesi, winemaker at Oakville’s Far Niente Winery. “People are getting more creative with food pairings, and with white wine, it’s much more approachable and versatile for pairings of any nature.”

Global cuisine and plant-based dishes are easier to pair with whites than reds, says Valdemar’s Alonso.

“Asian cuisine pairs very well with white wines,” says Alonso. “Vegan and vegetarian food are also easier to pair with white wines.”

That’s it. The more I focus on wine and food pairing the more I gravitate toward whites. Unless I’m serving a meal focused on red meat, I almost always reach for white wine. The range of sweetness levels and high acidity make it more versatile than red wine.

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