5 Things We Learned in February

The importance of scores, the desirability of grapes, and the value of an early night. This February was full of surprises. Continue reading for our take on February Wine Trends.

1. Early nights have become more appealing

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that America’s health conscious 18-35-year-olds are heading for bed earlier and earlier, to ensure they get an average of nine hours and 28 minutes of sleep. To achieve this much shut-eye, they’re turning down dinner and clubbing invitations.

“For me, nothing good happens after 9 p.m.,” one 19-year-old told the reporter.

As a result, the number of reservations between 6 p.m. and midnight have declined  — and New York event organisers are experimenting with holding dance parties early in the evening.

“Businesses have adjusted in turn, with bars adding matinee dance parties and other daytime events,” the article went on.

If the trend continues, restaurants and bars might finally find it easier to recruit staff again, as serving hours become less unfriendly and stressful.

2. An ancient celebration of the joys of wine

Three researchers recently won the $700,000 Vesuvius Prize for unlocking the secrets of a carbonised scroll, which had been burned in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

It was one of about 800 scrolls that have been in storage at the Institut de France in Paris and the National Library of Naples. They’re so fragile that they fall apart when anybody tries to open them.

Three students — Youssef Nader, a PhD student in Berlin, Luke Farritor, a student and SpaceX intern from Nebraska, and Julian Schilliger, a Swiss robotics student — used AI to analyse which parts of the carbonised lump were ink and which were papyrus, and then they decoded the ink, according to Phys.org.

What they found was a celebration of “music, food, and how to enjoy life’s pleasures,” said Nat Friedman, the organiser.

At a time when wine is under threat, it feels like a cheering omen. And the discovery represents just 5% of one scroll — with 799 more scrolls to go, there are no doubt other epicurean discoveries to be made. Who knows? There might be information about ancient food and wine matching to look forward to.

From @natfriedman on Twitter. Image was produced by @Youssef_M_Nader, @LukeFarritor, and @JuliSchillij

3. When Danes buy wine, they go big

Areni Global’s comprehensive market report on Denmark came out this week, and it’s packed with information about the fine wine market.

Sarah Philips, our membership manager, was struck by the way that the Danes — who live in a liberal market where there are more than 1,000 wine distributors at work, and where every possible style of wine is on offer — will travel to neighbouring countries to stock up, including heading to Sweden to take advantage of the weaker Swedish kroner. One German producer who was interviewed for the report noted that Danes will tour wine regions in groups, and buy cases of wine at a time.

That’s only one of many reasons that if you’re involved in fine wine, Denmark should be on your radar. And if you’re in wine tourism, you should be rolling out the red carpet for the Danes — and making space in the car park for their vans.

4. Wine critics are still critical

Last month, X/Twitter was ablaze once more with speculation about whether wine critics were still worth listening to or not.

“Sometimes the reason why a job still exists is that the value chain still needs them,” said CEO Pauline Vicard. “I was glad to have a full demonstration of this in our latest podcast Inside the World of Wine Investment: In Conversation with Rostislav Petrov and Matthew Small.”

In that podcast, Pauline discusses the fine wine market with Rotislav Petrov and Matthew Small of Cru Wine in London — who reveal that scores still have an impact on the market.

But, it turns out, some critics matter much more than others, and that’s because the critics themselves are being scored and evaluated.

“We can actually break down the accuracy of critics’ scores,” Matthew Small told us. “If we look at the market price versus the critic’s score of, say, the last 10 vintages, you can then work out how accurate they have been in the past and whether that’s the best critic score to use to identify the value of the wine.”

It’s a fascinating discussion that covers not just critics and scores, but also how technology is changing the market.

5. Grapes have become the decorator’s must-have

Come harvest time, keep all the grape bunches that fail the quality test — there are interior designers who might take them off your hands.

A recent New York Times article detailed how grapes have become the must-have interior decoration lately. Grapes are overflowing from marble urns, trailing over the dinner table, and even being roasted for decorative purposes.

Apparently darker skinned varieties are “moody” and “sensual”.

But we knew that already.

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