by Melissa Piper Nelson
What is red and white and blue all over? Wine, of course — expressing one of the major food and beverage trends to emerge in recent years.           
The Specialty Food Association recently recognized the interest in unexpected colors noting Spain’s Gik initial debut of “blue wine” in the U.S. with a 30,000-bottle pre-order. The crystal blue color is derived from grape must, seeds and stems, along with natural substances: indigo dye and anthocyanin. Naturally derived brilliant colors are exploding in many food and beverage groups including teas, candies, beverages and produce (beets, squash and carrot varieties in Mardi-Gras neon colors). But basic black, now referred to as the “Goth” trend, is not retreating either. Trend spotters say black from activated charcoal is “gaining superfood status,” springing up in foods from pizza crusts to ice cream.
But if you are not into color trends, what about alternative wine packaging including cardboard cartons, the hot trend in Europe and Canada? Touted as more environmentally friendly than glass bottles, aseptic cartons are trending upward as U.S. consumers look for creative eco-friendly packaging and convenience.
The wine packaging industry sees carton packaging as a way to communicate more information about wines and vineyards directly on the product, as well as being the canvas for attractive promotional artwork and logos. An industry article, The Outside Counts, notes, “A rectangular carton has (multiple) visible surfaces that together offer greater potential, if used correctly, than a round bottle. Words and images can be spread over all (five) sides for easy reading and understanding.”
Distributors see the worth of square containers to ship and display more efficiently than traditional bottled wine. While carton recycling is still an issue in some U.S. regions, food and beverage trend spotters think alternative packaging will emerge as a selling point for many wine consumers in the future.
And finally, a word to the baby-boomers — rosé wine is back. Rebuffed in recent years as passé with younger wine drinkers, Specialty Food News in its Top Wine Trends for 2018 announces, “Among specific wine varieties, rosé (wines) have exploded in popularity, particularly during the summer months. White wine buyers increasingly added rosé to their purchases, embracing an alternative to sweet or dry wines.”