The Comeback Kids
By Anna Scott
Type ‘wine comeback’ into your favourite search engine and see how many pages of results come up (clue: it’s quite a few). A quick glance at this information might lead you to deduce that pretty much everything and anything in the world of wine has made a ‘comeback’ at some time or other, so much so that you start to wonder if they ever really went away in the first place. Of course, wine is subject to trends like any other type of food, drink, or form of culture, but trends tend to be irrelevant to those of us who particularly enjoy said things. Much like any muso heavily into a specific branch of indie isn’t going to be too concerned about what acts are in the top 10, then it goes that those who like drinking good German Riesling (myself included) aren’t that fussed whether supermarket sales of Pinot Grigio are going through the roof or not. So what does a wine comeback mean to those of us who actually drink wine because we are interested in it? Does a new trend automatically translate as AVOID AT ALL COSTS, or could an increase in popularity lead to an increase in quality? In order to not-very-scientifically evaluate the power of the wine comeback, I’ve looked at few recent examples to see whether they’re anything worth getting our knickers in a twist about…
It’s making a comeback, don’t you know. Of course, it never really disappeared completely, just languished at the bottom of shelves and gathered dust (I once knew a wine shop manager who, upon taking over a branch, discovered a case of eight year old Beaujolais Nouveau in the hidden depths of the cellar) and like most wines, it’s always been easy to get a decent bottle of the stuff, even if supermarkets chains fail to recognise it as a potential seller. I suppose the fact that it’s been labelled a ‘comeback’ is that it is very much associated with the past, having picked up a somewhat kitsch label but there is one place in the UK where Beaujolais, and in particular, Beaujolais Nouveau, has never gone out of fashion – South Wales. Yes, South Wales. I know not the reason for its enduring popularity here (anyone from Swansea or Cardiff, feel free to explain), but I’m sure the residents will dismiss all this comeback nonsense out of hand. So what does it mean for the rest of us? Well, probably absolutely nothing. For me, Beaujolais has always been one of those wines you either like or you don’t like. Particularly good examples, although particularly good, haven’t done much to make me do a U-turn on this matter. So there you go. Comeback schmumback.
I imagine that most people reading this find the whole Sherry comeback thing completely irrelevant (much like those South Wales-dwelling Beaujolais fanatics), because, as we all know, those who love wine, love Sherry. But personally, I find the whole Sherry comeback thing nothing to be sniffy about – yes, we’ve appreciated its qualities all along, but I love the fact that other people out there are getting to see what all the fuss is about. The increase of sales isn’t of your Harvey’s Bristol Cream variety, but of the far more interesting dry styles, so I’m all for a Sherry resurgence if it’s all about the quality.
Rose, on the other hand…well, yes, there are plenty of fine roses out there but its ever-increasing popularity has also resulted in an abundance of crap too. With rose, we’re probably so far down the comeback track now that it’s due an about turn in the next few years or so, yes? So when it does become unfashionable to drink the pink stuff, we can all just keep quaffing the rose we enjoy and mock all the trend followers who will inevitably be buying up the latest comeback by the case.
Of course, the most important thing about wine comebacks are the opportunities they give for us wine lovers to be smug about how we’ve enjoyed the good stuff all along, so in that context, bring on the next one…