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Join Mark DeWolf, SaltWire Network's creative director of food and drink, in our Follow A Foodie newsletter as he follows his taste buds across the East Coast. Subscribe here.
I do not foresee eating less in 2021, but I will concentrate on being less wasteful and eating and drinking better. Rising food prices and the negative impacts of food waste from a societal and environmental perspective have never been more top of mind.
The year past placed pressure on traditional food supply chains. Out of challenges comes great solutions and an opportunity to rethink what is normal. While COVID forced us to eat in instead of dining out, it also challenged us to rethink how we source food.
In my recent New Year’s food resolutions article, I suggest ways to follow your foodie dreams in 2021, including challenging the grocery store shopping model in favour of more locally sourced food and drink and ideas about reducing our food waste.
With more dining in, 2021 will be a time to focus on bringing new flavours to our table and improving our cooking skills. It all begins with basic kitchen skills training such as how to dice an onion and how to break down a chicken.
Gourmet on a budget
With rising food prices top of my mind, I challenged myself to create a gourmet, four-course New Year’s Eve menu for four, including two bottles of wine, for $50. With half my budget spent – albeit frugally – on the wine, I discovered all I needed was a little resourceful shopping to craft a guest-worthy menu for a little more than a green note.
One of the keys is investing in a flavour-infuser and finding a little synergy between courses. My secret ingredient was a can of chipotle peppers in adobo, which I used to add a smoky richness and depth of flavour to dishes such as black bean dip, butternut squash soup and roast chicken legs. It was $5 well spent as it elevated the rest of the meal.
Slimmer wine wallet
Personally, 2020’s tightening of the wine budget meant focusing on finding quality in sometimes less than likely places. For the broader wine-purchasing community, it meant a “bigger is better” philosophy. Boxed wines flowed off local liquor store shelves in 2020, almost as quickly as toilet paper at grocery stores. While I didn’t veer much into wine from alternate packages, I did renew my love of some overlooked places.
Portugal has itself well-positioned with value wines for those willing to pay north of $15, but south of $20. For whites I found single varietal Alvarinho from producers such as Quinta da Aveleda, Quinta da Lixas and Soalheiro all provide great flavour and balance, while value reds can be discovered across the country.
Rioja is an old friend I had long forgotten about, but brands such as Torres Ibericos (NSLC, $19.99) and Montecillo Blanco (NSLC, $18.99) reminded me 2021 is a time to renew this acquaintance.
On the local level, value can be harder to find. That said, I will happily spend some extra money on local Traditional Method Nova Scotia sparkling wine from producers such as Blomidon Estate, Lightfoot & Wolfville, Benjamin Bridge and L’Acadie Vineyards.
5 wine predictions for 2021
1. A rainbow of colours.
Rosé will continue to increase in popularity, supported in part by the launch of Prosecco rosé this spring. We will begin to welcome a new colour to the shelves with orange wine starting its migration from millennial Instagram curiosity to mainstream piqued interest.
2. The road to carbon zero.
We’ll drink less wine overall and more from boxes and other easily recyclable containers such as cans. Wineries will also do more to be less wasteful, transforming fermentation byproducts such as leftover skins into lower alcohol and fresh wines that appeal to the millennial market.
3. The old, old world returns
We welcome back into our cellars products from Old World countries that have been making wine for thousands of years. My top watchout country is Greece. Expect sommeliers to be recommending Assyrtiko white wines and Xinomavro reds from Greece when we return to bars and restaurants in 2021.
4. Wine in a box
There will be a shift in the wine retailing paradigm as wine enthusiasts continue to look outside of the traditional monopoly retail landscape for direct-to-home wine buying options. Expect more wines to be delivered to our homes in boxes next year.
5. Wine cocktails
I didn’t say all trends are good trends. With low-alcohol spirit based hard sodas and seltzers exploding in sales, wineries will follow suit and attempt to play in a subsection of the retail environment they may not have the marketing budgets to compete in.
See you next week when we'll offer more great food and drink recipes. Until then, keep following your foodie dreams.
~ Mark DeWolf
Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. Watch Mark whip up seasonal plates in his video series, In a Jiffy, and go deeper with food trends and kitchen challenges weekly