LIWF takes place at Londons ExCel centre until Wednesday

LIWF takes place at London's ExCel centre until Wednesday

Wine producers should concentrate on flagging up the category's low-calorie credentials, instead of looking at lowering abvs, a Mintel analyst has argued. 

During a seminar at today's London International Wine Fair (LIWF), Jonny Forsyth, a Mintel drinks analyst, said consumers' increasing focus on calorie intake could also allow wine to steal drinkers away from other categories in the UK. "I'm not convinced that low abv wines are the answer at the moment," he said. 

"Calories matter more than abvs (for wine)... they're more immediate and tangible." 

Forstyth said that if alcoholic drinks were forced to display calorie counts, due to UK Government regulation, wine could "steal people away" from the beer category. He pointed to the success of Beam's Skinnygirl range in the US, highlighting that a low-calorie option can work, if positioned correctly. 

He also argued that other innovations, such as half-size bottles, as opposed to single-size, would be a better option as wine remains a "social drink".

Wine producers should also do more to highlight the "subtle" flavours present that can reflect current trends such as spiciness, Forsyth said.

"Wine must work harder to innovate," he said. "It does not have to mean extreme and gimmicky examples like chocolate wine, but it does mean subtle executions of shifting trends, such as talking about the notes and armoas of spices, rather than having spicy wine."  

Earlier, he flagged the trend for young consumers favouring sweeter drinks. "Sweet wines appeal to younger palettes," he said, pointing to a 33% rise in volumes for Moscato in the US, leading to the concept of "Moscato madness".

Forsyth also suggested that wine critics' general disdain for sweet wines, in favour of dryer varieties, was holding back innovation in this area.