2023 Trends: Light & Textural - Boutinot International

A look at two of 2023’s biggest categories: textural whites and light reds.

What is a textural white wine?

White wines that are bolder and more structural with more weight, mouthfeel and tannin grip than their aromatic counterparts. This bolder style can be achieved through choice of variety, extended skin contact, lees contact, oak ageing or oxygenation.

Textural whites have been increasing in popularity since 2020, starting with the comeback of oaked Chardonnay (though a more restrained style than the 1980’s and 1990’s). In 2022, Sherry, white Rhône and orange wines have all seen an increase in sales:

  • The global orange wine market was valued at US$40.01m in 2022, and is expected to exceed US$67m by the end of 2032
  • Sherry exports nearly doubled in 2021, with the UK being its largest importer, and German imports increasing by 30%
  • Picpoul de Pinet now equates to over 80% of white wines exported from the Languedoc

What’s driving this popularity?

  • Consumer curiosity: Consumers today are better informed about the wines they’re drinking and want to know the stories behind them. Textural winemaking techniques add to this story and give wines a real sense of place, enriching and enhancing “a wine lover’s experience”.
  • Seeking out the unusual: Wines in the textural white category are inherently unusual, which has been a huge consumer trend since last year. Lesser-known varieties, emerging regions, and unique winemaking techniques pique consumer interest.
  • Food friendly: Fuller-bodied, more structural white wines pair with a multitude of foods. As the success of Étienne Farras’ campaign to pair Picpoul with oysters shows, consumers enjoy a good match and guidance on how to find it.
  • Diversifying to survive: Climate change, dry goods shortages and wine shortages have all left holes of well-known wines in the market. Heini Zachariassen, founder of Vivino believes that diversity is a necessity and “wine drinkers who are naturally curious will embrace the opportunity to branch out”.

La Lisse ‘Soie d’Ivoire’ Chenin Blanc

Creamy & Buttery

Alo ‘Vert Impérial’ Picpoul-Roussanne

Saline & captivating

Coterie Grenache Blanc Chenin Blanc

Generous & textured

The Tea Leaf

Satisfying & concentrated

Texture Viognier

Full-bodied & bright

Here & There Grenache Blanc

Tropical & silky


What is a light red wine?

Light- to medium-colour red wines with a fresh nose and delicate mouthfeel with very light tannins. They are easy-drinking wines with a fruit forward profile, little to no oak influence, and can be enjoyed chilled. This lighter style can be achieved in a number of ways such as varietal selection, earlier harvesting, or low-extraction winemaking.

Consumer red wine habits are changing, and there is a growing appreciation for paler, less extracted reds. “Over the last few years, consumers have been looking for lower-alcohol, lighter styles of red, which are the perfect style for a little chill on them,” says Jon McDaniel, owner and CEO of Second City Soil based in Chicago. “The growth in interest here is also about wanting to enjoy wine individually, something that is refreshing.”

  • Beaujolais has recorded the highest levels of growth of any French wine region in the UK market, with volumes up by 22% and value by 17% in 2022.
  • Cinsault is on trend thanks to its capability to offer soft drinkability. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon says, “There is a small cadre of wine drinkers emerging who appreciate lower alcohol, less extracted wines – wines of elegance.”
  • A recent report from Wine Australia on Japan and South Korea highlights the emergence of a new drinker category: consumers looking for red wines that are light, sweet, fruity and smooth.

What is driving the popularity

  • Natural wines: Part of the natural wine philosophy is to not force wines into a mould that doesn’t fit them. As a result, many natural red wines are lighter in colour and profile. Natural wine has helped to drive lighter preferences forward.
  • Drinking better / Lower alcohol: Jancis Robinson says, “…everyone’s looking for lower alcohol. There was a time when acidity in a wine was seen as a negative attribute. And now, not least because of climate change, people are looking for freshness in wine. So there’s a tendency to pick grapes earlier when resulting alcohols will be lower and acidity will be higher.”
  • Occasions: Light reds have become a sociable drink. They suit more occasions and democratise drinking wine without having to go out. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif, at the table, or even after a meal. It comes with less pressure.

Domaine de la Chappelle Bizot Chiroubles

Elegant & soft

Selon Létang Cinsault

Juicy & bright

Pour le Vin ‘Avoir La Côt’ Malbec

Crunchy & fruity

La Bacca Nerelle Mascalese

Vibrant & youthful

Uva Non Grata Gamay

Refreshing & light

Strange Kompanjie Cinsault

Juicy and mineral


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