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The Top 10 Predicted Wine And Beer Trends of 2015

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It's the beginning of the new year and you know what that means: New food trends are just beyond our gourmet grocery store's horizon. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2015 Culinary Forecast, locally sourced meats and seafood landed in the top spot in this year's food trends. And obviously, you'll want to wash down those sizzling steaks and shrimp with some trendy alcoholic beverages. So here are the top 10 predicted wine and beer trends for 2015.

Micro-Distilled/ Artisan Spirits

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) crowned micro-distilled/artisan spirits as the top trend of the New Year.  Micro-distilled or artisan spirits are liquors that use local ingredients that give the alcohol an unique flavor. Think of it like the craft beer version of hard liquor.

The number of artisan distilleries in the U.S. has exploded, increasing 30 percent a year. According to the American Distilling Institute (ADI), in 2005 there were only 50 craft distillers compared to the over 600 in 2013. So it's no surprise that artisan spirits are the next big thing to hit the drinking scene. Major alcohol companies are expected to purchase craft distillers, wineries, breweries and brands to stay on top of the rising trend.

The NRA named locally produced booze the second top trend for 2015. As people continue to prefer their food fresh from the farm and locally produced, it only makes sense they want the same for their alcohol.

Barrel-Aged Drinks

Barrel-aged drinks also ranked high on the NRA alcohol trend list. New York, Portland and San Francisco bars are the leading the pack with this movement. To make a barrel-aged drink, a bartender uses a process called "batching" where they mix up several gallons of cocktail and funnel it into an oak barrel. They set the liquor in a dark area, usually the basement of the bar and wait months until they decide the aged alcohol is ready. Over the months, the alcohol is absorbed from the wood, soaking up its color and flavors.  

Session Beers

Craft beers will continue to reign over Budweisers. However, craft brewers will stop focusing on IPAs, which get people drunker faster because of its higher alcohol content. Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday, you will be able to sip more with session beers that contain less alcohol, typically no more than five percent. Even though they skimp on the alcohol, they don't on taste. They taste well with chips, wings and pizza. Try Founders Brewing Co.'s All Day IPA,  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s Nooner Pilsner or Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s DayTime seasonal beers.

Craft Rums

Pappy Van Winkle was really popular in 2014, but the American craft whisky trend was so last year. Craft rums will be the next big trend of the year among spirit connoisseurs. According to the ADI, Balcones Texas Rum was crowned "category defining" in a 2013 competition. The aged rum is made from molasses in oak barrels and is only available in the U.S.

Portable Wine

So wine in a can wasn't as appealing to Millennials as companies hoped it would be, but portable wine is expected to make a splash in 2015. There is the company Zipz that received the biggest deal in Shark Tank history when it got $2.5 million. Other portable wine options include Stack Wines and W1ne for One.  

Tequila For Millennials

Speaking of Millennials, if they are looking for a party then tequila should be the drink of choice. Celebs like Iggy Azalea and Usher are proudly announcing their love for the drink, and with lots of songs saluting shots, tequila is most commonly associated with a fun, but wild time. There will be more high-end options expected to hit the market for those who have more sophisticated taste.

"Healthy" Alcohol

Low-calorie wine brands are expected to do well this year. Some bars may start adding calorie counts to their menus, meaning they could create cocktails minus the extra sugar. Organic wine, beer and cider will also continue to rise in popularity, especially since organic vodka, gin, liqueurs, whiskey, tequila and rum are now available.

Wine Country

Surprisingly, Virginia is predicted to be the next go-to region for wine. New Jersey and Texas are also up-in-coming wine regions. And will it be white or red this year? White wines like Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece will be the must-drink summer sipper. 

(Photo : mofobian/Tumblr)

Flavor of the Year

According to the Swiss flavor maker Firmenich, the annual Flavor of the Year has been announced. 2015 will officially be the year of honey-flavored liquor. Try Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey or add pure honey when mixing up cocktails at home. 

Cheers to another year of great drinks!

[Photo Credit: K. Graham/Flickr]

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