Lowering the bar

26 February, 2016

Accolade’s general manager, sales UK & Ireland, Rob Harrison says: “There is a trend that shoppers are becoming more health conscious, so awareness of calories and alcohol is becoming more of a consideration. We can see this through the increase in participants in Dry January. It will be interesting to look at the sales of our non-alcohol sparkling wines after the month concludes.”

Villa Maria communications manager Chantelle Harper says: “Demand for lighter-alcohol wines is a growing trend, with consumers seeking healthier lifestyles. The low-alcohol category suffered some initial perception problems due to some poor quality wines on the market. Villa Maria has focused on producing lighter alcohol wines that are high quality and made without compromising on taste. This is achieved by picking the grapes earlier to keep the sugar content lower, careful selection of yeasts used during fermentation and slightly longer skin contact to allow flavour development.

“We believe the demand for quality lighter-alcohol wines is only going to continue to accelerate as health conscious consumers seek out better lifestyle alternatives,” she says.

“The category is still relatively new so it’s early days to make a call on this. New Zealand being our first market to launch is going extremely well and growth is exponential. The UK and Australia are the only other markets currently.

“Our focus for now remains on refining and meeting demand for the current varieties,” adds Harper. 

The Villa Maria Private Bin Lighter collection features a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and rosé, each containing 25% less alcohol than their standard counterparts.

Mireia Torres Maczassek, general manager of Torres Priorat and Jean Leon wineries and responsible R&D & Innovation, tells Drinks International: “We introduced Natureo in 2007 and since then the range has been really successful. The wines are especially appreciated in more mature markets – mostly northern Europe and Canada – where we had seen this trend for wines that have practically no alcohol.

“These consumers probably think – just like we do – that wine is the perfect companion with food and don’t want to give up on that. Especially from the on-trade we get very positive feedback as the sommeliers and waiters are more in direct contact with the final consumer.

“They all seem to realise that a de-alcoholised wine does not really compete with ‘normal’ wine. It competes with the alternatives you have when you can’t drink a wine with alcohol. For example, when you have to drive or when you are pregnant, your alternatives are water, juice, soft drinks and so on.

“With my Mediterranean roots I still think that the ideal match for good food is regular wine with alcohol. But when this is not possible, the de-alcoholised wines do a great job.

“For the moment we will continue concentrating on our existing Natureo portfolio, which consists of Natureo White made of Moscatel, Natureo Red made of Syrah and Natureo Rosé made of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. But we have been also working on a 0.0 version of Natureo White, which we will soon launch in a test market,” Torres Maczassek adds.


German wine producer Langguth has launched a range of alcohol-free wines under its Blue Nun brand and recently repackaged them. UK sales director Armin Wagner said: “The Blue Nun Delicate products have performed at a growth rate of 6 % for rosé and almost 50% for white in the previous year. This is the result of a repackaging giving the products a more soft and feminine look and subsequent new listings in the UK retail.

Keywords: low alcohol wine

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