Welcome to Mark O’Neill’s Wine Blog

You may think of wine as being very traditional not ‘cool’. Over the last few years wine has been completely outshone by beer as craft brewers have radicalised the very traditional and declining beer market. Not to mention spirits, notably Gin, a complete change of image, once considered the lowest of the low in the time of Dickens, to now being very cool and expensive.

Yet while the wine sector may seem static and traditional it is being much more dynamic. So if you want to look ‘cool’ to your friends or when you next go into a wine shop or a restaurant, here are some of the wines that are trending internationally. I even used the word ’trending’!

A fast growing sector is for lighter wines with lower calories and lower alcohol. If you are watching your waistline it is cool to ask for a lower calorie wine and is should be decent. Nowadays, many wines you find in shops and in restaurants are 14 – 15% alc. However, if you want a wine by the glass at lunchtime or as an aperitif, then a wine with between 7% and 11%, is more suitable. Wineries in many regions of the world are investing heavily in wines of this type. Maybe they are anticipating the day when the EU in all its infinite wisdom decides that wine is a food product and the back label will have to include the full analysis including calories.

Premium Rosé wines are now a luxury drink. The Rosé wine market has changed dramatically with a wide range of styles available from very dry, to sweet, to barrel aged. The colour seems to be paler that ever, but that is how many consumers prefer their Rosés. One of the most prestigious and expensive Rosés is the Gérard Bertrand Clos du Temple Rosé 2019, which will set you back around €170 per bottle! To make a wine look like a prestigious beverage, Rosé producers have learned and copied perfume brand and premium spirits in their beautiful and very expensive packaging. Provence in southern France is the trendiest region in the world for premium quality Rosés. I believe that this is a sector in which Spanish wines can really make a strong impact, particularly with wines made from Garnacha.

Individual grape varieties are coming back in fashion. Gruner Veltliner, native of Austria but also found in New Zealand, it fashionable in wine bars from New York to London. It is pronounced Grooner, to make is easier to say and remember.

Riesling, is also back in fashion having lost its allure to all but the keenest wine drinkers. If you want to look cool ask for Dry or slightly off dry Riesling from the Mosel in Germany or Clare Valley in Australia.

Sparkling Wines, I have written before about the popularity and success of Prosecco, but nowadays it is cool to ask for a Crémant. A Crémant is a French sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne and Cava, however, because it is not from the Champagne region it cannot be called Champagne. Yet regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire, all produce top quality sparkling wines called Crémant and tend to be considerably cheaper than their illustrious neighbour. Two Crémants to look out for are Crémant de Limoux, an appellation in the Pyrenean foothills and Crémant de Saumur from the Loire Valley.

So there you are, 5 ways to look cool when asking for wine.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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