Four top wine trends for 2013

Welcome to 2013 and the next year of your wine-drinking life. Over the past twelve months we saw a slew of clever new wine concepts worth trying, and a whole lotta wine-related WTFs to studiously avoid. All the while we watched and waited, eyes peeled for signs of the wine-related developments that would turn out to be more than just a flash in the glass. Below, our picks for the four most compelling wine trends for 2013.

See also: - Ten of the best (and highly giftable) wines of 2012

1) Grower Champagne With your New Year's Eve celebration hangover barely worn off, it's doubtful that you'll be craving bubbly anytime soon. But the next time you're ready to pop a bottle, we'd like to encourage you to pick one you've never heard of. As fans of sparkling wine continue to grow in number, we predict they'll start seeking out what somms around the country have been pouring for the past several years -- stunningly delicious, top-quality Champagne produced by winemakers seeking to express the unique terroir of their particular vineyards, at prices that can be far below the bubbly you typically see in hip-hop videos. Two to try: Gaston Chiquet 1er Cru Brut Tradition NV ($44) and Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut ($40).

2) Emerging regions Some of our favorite wines of 2012 came from regions that don't typically get much love from the mainstream. While each of these locales boast centuries-long traditions of producing great wine, they've largely been ignored until recently, when restaurants seeking to offer their guests interesting alternative varieties at reasonable prices started to take note. Our top regions to seek out in 2013 include South Africa, which is turning out exciting, old-meets-new world takes on sauvignon blanc and pinotage; Austria, where you can score elegant, esoteric reds like blaufränkish and zweigelt, and Friuli, the land of aromatic, intriguing whites like friulano and ribolla gialla that have stolen our hearts.

3) Lower alcohol reds For the past decade or so we've seen alcohol levels skyrocket, particularly in red wines from the new world. While some wine drinkers rejoiced at this, many others cringed as their palates withered under the heat of all that booze. Much to our delight, a number of producers from places like California and Australia are bottling pinot noir, syrah and zinfandel that offer stylistic restraint and truly balanced flavor profiles that still deliver all of the pleasure -- with none of the pain.

4) Sherry We could hardly contain our delight at the discovery of this emerging trend, since we're fans of this utterly fantastic fortified wine. Proof that sherry is officially on fire? Last October the first annual Sherryfest took place in New York City, featuring dozens of in-store tastings, seminars, an assortment of sherry-fueled dinners and a grand sherry tasting with twenty sherry producers presenting more than a hundred sherries for a crowd of thirsty sherry lovers. The event went down as the largest sherry event ever held outside of Spain, and served as a harbinger of a craze that we feel is imminent amongst the larger wine-drinking demographic. Offered in styles from bracingly dry to seductively sweet, sherry is one of the world's best food-pairing wines. For a primer on these provocative wines, check out Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla, the excellent book by Peter Liem and Jesús Barquin.

Find Swirl Girl @swirlgirldenver and on facebook