WINE IS THE EPITOME of romance. It’s a grape-based drink from the gods that is all about tradition and terroir. So what happens when you add passion fruit and peaches to it? What happens when you slap a colourful label on it and sell it in a six-pack? It might be sacrilege to some, but it sells.
We’re not talking fruit wines. We’re talking grape wines with flavours added. Dominic Rivard, wine production consultant for Wineplanet Consulting, explains the difference: “The biggest challenge is the confusion consumers have between a naturally fermented flavoured wine – called ‘fruit wine’ all over North America – and RTD style wines that are grape based. The average consumer is confused and often both wine types are sold in the same section in retail, often side by side.”
In the UK, consumers are lapping up the latter. The fruit fusion category is now worth more than £51.9m in retail sales volume (Nielsen to 27/02/16). The biggest player by far, Accolade Wines’ Echo Falls Fruit Fusions accounts for 91% of all sales within this category a very respectable £46.8m in the year– not bad for a brand that’s only in its second year.
Accolade marketing director Amy White says: “The growth and success of Echo Falls Fruit Fusions has certainly exceeded all our expectations when we launched the range in 2014. We’ve now sold more than 9m bottles and the range is listed in all major retailers and continuing to perform well.”
Raspberry & Cassis, Summer Berries, and White Peach & Mango form the still Echo Falls range, with sparkling variants of the latter two.
Accolade might be the biggest, but it has competition. White says: “The fruit fusion category is still in its early stage of development and new products are constantly entering the market. The category has huge potential for further growth and expansion but no one can really predict how big it will get.”
MILLENNIALS ARE KEY
Reh Kendermann export sales director Alison Flemming says: “Fruit flavoured wines tend to be purchased by newbies to wine who generally aren’t keen on the taste. The highly aromatised styles with marked levels of sweetness appeal to this type of palate.”
Jo Taylorson, marketing controller at Kingsland Drinks, says flavoured wines has a lot to thank fruit ciders and cocktails for. She says: “In the UK, consumers’ palates have been moving towards a sweeter taste profile. This has been seen by the surge in popularity of fruit ciders and cocktails in both the on and off-trade over recent years.
“An increasing number of wine consumers reach out to these drinks when the occasion arises, so wine fusion drinks – which are more similar in taste profile to ciders and cocktails – give them the opportunity to try something new, while staying in the wine category.”
It might not be highbrow or welcomed with open arms by the more traditional wine consumer, but this sweeter and more approachable product is winning over drinkers and introducing them to the wine category.