Comment - Lower alcohol wine
The future looks bright for wines with a lower alcohol content in the UK, if only someone could decide on what to call them.
Representatives of the UK's top supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, were yesterday unanimous in their view that consumers are seeking out wines with a lower alcohol content.
Considering that supermarkets account for easily more than three quarters of wines sold in the UK off-trade, these peoples' views matter.
Judging by the packed conference hall at yesterday's Wine & Spirit Trade Association conference on lower alcohol wine, it would seem that interest is also picking up in the trade. Managing directors of some of the country's largest wine merchants jostled for seats with Masters of Wine.
On paper, wines with a lower abv tick all the boxes. They offer consumers greater and extended choice, while also dove-tailing with Government efforts to reduce the country's thirst for alcohol units.
Several barriers remain, however, and high on the list is how lower alcohol wines should be positioned and marketed. Currently, no one can decide and, considering the calibre of yesterday's meeting, there were precious few suggestions.
To make the issue more complicated, lower alcohol wines can be split up into wines that naturally have a lower abv and those that have had their abv reduced by new technologies.
There needs to be an industry-wide strategy on the labelling of these "new generation" wines if they are to fly.
A lot of work also needs to be done with regulatory authorities, not only on labelling rules, but also on the regulatory restrictions at EU level on using technology to reduce alcohol in wine.
Aside from this, the high cost of equipment to reduce abv and the issue of quality, which remains, are other deterrents.
But, where there is a will, there is a way - and if the trade takes notice of its own consumer research, there is certainly a demand.
Ideas on a postcard - email@example.com.
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