Fresh: 2023 uncorked

Artwork by Gabriel Sabourin

Trends

2023 uncorked

Fresh is a new series of articles that explores the latest trends in the world of alcohol. To start the year off on the right foot, we asked experts to predict what's in store for us in 2023.

Published on January 24, 2023

What's up, 2023?

The New Year's festivities are behind us, but that doesn't mean we can't still drink bubbles! According to Nadia Fournier — wine columnist and author of Le guide du vin 2023 — champagnes, sparkling wines, crémants, cavas, proseccos and other pet nats are no longer reserved for celebrations; we're seeing them more and more on the table. "The sparkling wine trend has been going strong for three years," she says. "Sparkling wines are seen as serious, gourmet wines, not just wines that you open at the beginning of a meal and put aside when you start eating," she explains.

For consultant and winemaker Steve Beauséjour from Vignoble de la Bauge, the big trend will be toward Nordic wines, from cool climates like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Quebec - "the countries with hockey teams," he jokes. "These are wines that have an alpine profile. Lighter wines, with more acidity, that lend themselves well to our climate and our gastronomy," he says.

The preference for lively, easy-drinking wines, which has been observed in recent years, is not likely to slow down. "People are looking for authentic wines that reflect a climate, a place, a soil, a human vision, which implies that the wine must be worked in a natural way," Steve explains.

"We are looking for authentic wines that reflect a climate, a place, a soil, a human vision, which implies that the wine must be worked in a natural way."

— Steve Beauséjour

It is no surprise, then, that piquette is back in vogue. For a long time, the word "piquette" was used to refer to a bland, even low-quality wine. However, it actually refers to a slightly alcoholic beverage that is made by passing water or fruit juice over the grape pomace (what remains after the wine-making process). The sale of piquette was forbidden in Quebec until 2021, when a new regulation was passed allowing it. And so, we will soon be able to discover many piquettes at the SAQ!

"What I really like about piquette is that it also allows you to macerate other small fruits or plants to bring a surprising complexity," explains Steve. 

The great return of rum

As for spirits, Rose Simard, creator of 1 ou 2 Cocktails and author of Boire le Québec, believes that after several years of gin and vodka domination, rum - and particularly rum from local distilleries - will make a comeback in the glasses of Quebecers. "We have a sweet tooth in Quebec, so I think it's a good fit for our tastes," she says. 

Rose says people are increasingly turning to social media for inspiration, as evidenced by the buzz around negroni sbagliato last fall. "TikTok is going to continue to put cocktails like the sbagliato on our radar, little surprises like that throughout the year," she explains. "What I like about it is that it brings new flavours to the market without anyone deciding. It opens up the discussion," she says.

Another trend to watch out for are the high alcohol content ready-to-drink beverages, which are already making waves in the United States and Australia. Rose Simard has collaborated with Distillerie du St. Laurent to create Amour liquide, a line of bar-quality cocktails, such as the negroni, the old fashioned and the espresso martini, in 100 ml cans.

Photo: Nesrine Brikci

"The big [low-alcohol] trend is definitely continuing [...]. We have more options than we did three years ago, there's a big evolution of what's available and accessible."

— Rose Simard

What should continue in 2023?

The supply of low alcohol products has exploded in 2022: wines, spirits, ready-to-drink, etc., there is something for everyone. The trend is towards moderation, and not just during dry months. With all the choices available today, we can mix and match between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages without compromising on taste.

"The big trend is definitely continuing with both ready-to-drink and spirits, as well as other types of products, such as low-alcohol apéritifs and vermouths, that offer an alternative to cut back on our consumption," Rose explains. "We have more options than we did three years ago, there's a big evolution of what's available and accessible," she adds.

Another underlying trend that won't go away in 2023: buying local. "People started buying local out of solidarity, but they continue to do so because they like the products," Nadia believes. That trend is not going to go away," she says.

It's no wonder, given the growing quality of Quebec products. "We're raising the bar every year. And that's due to the first generations, who broke into the business when no one believed in it. That creates this buzz today, which is really emerging," Steve explains.

Rose agrees: "I have a feeling it's going to stick around, because it's even become ingrained in our buying process. Buying a gin now, [it pretty much always means] a Quebec gin," she says. And that goes for the other ingredients that make up our cocktails, such as sodas, syrups and fruit.

The local offer has grown a lot in the last few years, which has allowed us to discover a multitude of flavour profiles, some of them quite original. After this period of exploration, we will slowly return to more classic, qualitative choices, believes Rose.

"People started buying local out of solidarity, but they continue to do so because they like the products. This trend is not about to disappear."

— Nadia Fournier

Photo: Julia Marois

Turning the page on 2022

On this point, everyone agrees: there is no longer any question of buying with your eyes closed, based solely on price or on an appellation. Today's consumers are more educated and are looking for products and producers that correspond to their values. "We're taking the time to question where our money is going, what we're encouraging when we give money," Steve says.

"One of the trends of 2023, I hope, is that everyone will rethink the way they consume responsibly," says Nadia. "Just ask the question before consuming in an automatic way. Drink less, but better", she summarizes.

Her wish for 2023: "The disappearance of large, heavy bottles and over-packaging. I hope that consumers will understand that heavy bottles are in no way a guarantee of quality and that it will just become normal to drink lightweight glass bottles," she says.

Artwork by Gabriel Sabourin

A Montrealer and graduate in graphic design, Gabriel finds inspiration in the purity of technical drawing and leverages his offbeat sense of humour to create captivating worlds. His two greatest passions are illustration and animation. 

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