The Ten Words That Defined Wine in 2020

Words and language are culture. In 2020, certain words and phrases depict how the wine industry interacted with larger cultural movements in the United States and identify the evolution of wine during a year very much unlike others.

In no particular order…The top 10 words that defined wine in 2020 were:

The disastrous demise of ON-PREMISE wine sales in 2020 can’t be overemphasized. The 20% of wine sales that occurred in bars and restaurants in 2019 simply fell off a cliff with the shuttering of these venues due to covid precautions. The recovery will be slow. But, recovery is inevitable. That’s the good news.

The largely undefined and unhelpful word found its way into numerous discussions of race, gender and diversity in the wine world. SYSTEMIC is a word that, without careful definition, is useful purely as a rhetorical hammer.

Once again, the continued rise of ROSE´wines dominated the development and evolution of the wine market, establishing the drink as a truly legitimate category of wine that will not fade the way Moscato has faded.

This was a relatively new concept for wine retailers and consumers that picked up steam and became commonplace around the country as wine retailers stayed open, yet shut down, attending to the ongoing wine needs of consumers who wanted to assure they had access to their favorite drink.

A word with a deeper and more useful meaning that “systemic”, DIVERSITY was the watchword bandied about by anyone concerned with how the wine industry attempted to burnish its reputation, respond to current events and address a relative lack of multi-cultural perspectives in the industry.

Wineries, restaurants, caterers, tour companies, and all the other industry sectors that have wine as a central element saw employee after employee deal with the FURLOUGH as the Covid-19 pandemic struck like a hot knife through the economy.

The IN-BOX became the central point of contact between wineries and consumers as producers migrated from tasting room encounters to email encounters in order to sell wine as wineries were shut down in response to the pandemic.

What was once a term to describe the mothers who resorted to the daily glass of Chardonnay to deal with parenting and work, WINE MOM took on additional meaning in 2020 as media outlets like the Washington  Post, The Atlantic and others investigated not just if WINE MOM is a euphemism for “alcoholic”, but if it might also be used to describe a group a little too enthusiastically backing Donald Trump. Yes, it’s weird.

For a while there, WINE CAVE was launched into the cultural vernacular as then-candidate Pete Buttigieg was photographed dining in luxury inside the Napa Valley WINE CAVE of Hall Winery. It was a bit of a “let them eat cake” moment that the wine industry has become accustomed to facilitating.

All year long distillers, wineries, brewers, and cideries lobbied Washington to make permanent tax cuts for the alcohol producers that would end on December 31. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reduction Act or CBMTRA was the reason behind numerous emails we all got emploring us to write our congressional representatives. We did this. In the end, CBMTRA was tucked into that massive year-end bill that funded Covid relief as well as just about anything else. We won this one.

Posted In: Culture and Wine


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