Wine, But Not as You Know it

Low Alcohol

Honesty and openness can drive sales of lower alcohol wines and drinks

Low alcohol wine-based products have been the focus of much new product development over the last two years. As concerns within the wine industry about rising costs and taxation have grown and the government has become increasingly vocal about alcohol and health issues, low alcohol is set to stay on the agenda. The new products tend to go one of two ways, either products that are designed to look exactly like regular wine and sit happily with wine or products that consciously take a different route and minimise traditional wine cues in an attempt to muscle in on the alcopop and cider market.  Consumers are clearly seeking healthier lifestyles but this trend has yet to capture the imagination of the wine consumer. Perhaps we need a rethink when it comes to ‘low-alchohol’?

Here are four approaches that are challenging the norm:

 1. Pre-packed wine based drink

More and more consumers want to know more about their food and drink, what it is and where it has come from. This has always been one of wine’s strengths. We need to extend this approach to low alcohol products – let’s tell people exactly what they are buying and why it is great before they purchase it. Bibendum have developed Chalcot's; a wine based spritzer made with quality juice which makes a point of being low alcohol.  Victoria Moore recently matched it with her Indian takeaway, "sometimes you just want to chill out with a bit of good-trashy-telly," adding, Chalcot's is "the wine equivalent – and blessedly light on alcoholic units."

2. Posh sangrias and spritzers

Sangria’s reputation may be a little tarnished but it’s heading for a revival. Posh sangria and spritzers are beginning to pop up all over the place. Think Albarino with rosemary and fresh citrus fruit or a punchy Bobalbased red number. Gonzalo Marín, head bartender at Barraca in the West Village in New York has developed a range of 'Craft Sangrias' and his Unlimited Sangria Brunch is renowned. Mr. Marín said to the New York Times, “The essence of sangria is wine, and I wanted to create something with Spanish flavours.” Similarly spritzers are morphing into cocktails. The Hugo – prosecco, elderflower and sparkling water – could be the perfect lower alcohol thirst quencher for 2014.

3. Small pours

With an ageing demographic, operators in the UK will begin to focus on quality rather than quantity. Although operators are now required to make wine available in 125ml glasses, this is often ignored in favour of serving larger glasses of cheaper wine. However, at restaurant 28-50º, we see Xavier Rousset offering wines by 75ml tasters as well. It’s been a great way to encourage consumers to experiment more, ‘When you commit to a 75ml serving at £3, there is no big risk. It’s not like you’ve bought a bottle.’

4. Redefining low alcohol

In the off-trade it’s the hallowed 5.5% ABV that cuts the mustard due to the UK tax system. However this is less of an issue in the on-trade and so the wines that fall into the 7-11% ABV category also fall into the healthier lower alcohol category. Wines such as Josef Chromy Delikat Riesling, Little Eden Moscato and our new range of Lambruscos all offer plenty of fruit flavour, food matching ability and refreshment without the worry of drinking a few glasses on a ‘school night’.

14th January 2014

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Drink Aware - know the facts