UK: Demand growing for lower alcohol wines - Tesco wine chief
Demand for lower alcohol wines is growing, but many UK consumers still liken the use of technology to reduce alcohol content to the creation of "Frankenstein's Monster", according to the head wine buyer for Tesco.
Wines that have a lower alcohol content, whether due to "natural" circumstances or use of new technology, are "an exciting new area", Dan Jago, head of Tesco's beer, wine and spirits division said today (1 October).
A relaxing of EU wine rules means producers can now make and export limited volumes of wine that has had its alcohol content artificially reduced by up to 2% abv, via technologies such as reverse osmosis.
But Jago, speaking at a Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) conference on lower alcohol wines in London, warned against encroaching upon consumers' perception of wine as a "natural" product.
"Technically, this is Frankenstein's Monster to a lot of people," he said.
However, Jago said that demand for wines with a lower alcohol content is growing, particularly in rose wine, which he said has a fruit-driven style that is particularly suited to lower alcohol content.
"There is a trend that consumers are telling us they are moving towards. If you don't follow it, you are going to become isolated," said Jago.
"I would like to see owners of mainstream brands start to bring their wines down to lower levels."
Other wine buyers present, including those for Tesco rivals Sainsbury's and Morrisons, agreed that demand for lower alcohol content in wine is growing.
Several wines on display at the WSTA conference, including the Allege Rose 2007 from Foncalieu, had an alcohol content of 10.5% abv, and had not used new technology to achieve the reduction.
Guy Anderson, of Guy Anderson Wines, told just-drinks that he is working with a team of winemakers in Bordeaux to produce a new white wine at 10.5% abv.
The WSTA has been tasked with talking to producers, suppliers and retailers in order to draw up definitions for different categories of lower alcohol wines.
There is debate in the trade over how best to position wines that have a lower alcohol content on shop shelves and in bars and restaurants.
The UK Government should freeze duty tax on wine and spirits in its upcoming annual Budget to prevent further job losses in the drinks industry, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association has said....
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