Lower alcohol wines might prove to be the biggest wine revolution of the 21st century. At least it is a top-contender for the grand price. There are several reasons why this wine category will rise from the shadows, let me present you with my top three scenarios.
In the eighteen century Marie Antionette allegedly advised the starving masses that if they ran out of bread, they should eat cate instead. Today, the poor are following this advice to the letter. Whereas the rich residents of Madrid eat lettuce salad and steamed tofu with quinoa, in the poorer areas of for example Andalusia the people are gorging on greasy hamburgers, Cheetos and Telepizza.
#1 Obesity as driver of future demand of low calorie wine
In 2014 more than 2.1 billion people where overweight world-wide, compared to 850 million who suffered from malnutrition. Indeed, half of humankind is expected to be overweight by 2030. In 2010 famine and malnutrition combined killed about 1 million people, whereas obesity killed 3 million. This is an entirely new scenario for human kind, in time it will profoundly change how the middle and higher classes eat and drink. It will pressure wine producers to create entirely new wine making techniques that reduce the final alcohol level of the wine without changing the flavour all too much. The aim being reducing the calories in the bottle.
#2 The Japanese scenario: “No time for the luxury of a hang-over”
Lower alcohol wines will also be demanded in markets such as Japan and perhaps even Silicon Valley where the long working hours or culture of work ethics just don't allow for even the slightest hangover. According to new research commissioned by Japan, one of every five Japanese companies have employees that work so much that thy risk death. That means over 80 hours of over time every week. Add a healthy pay check with long hours in the office and you have opened up for a category of premium low alcohol wine brands.
#3 Future subsidies and encouragement from governments
As drinking in moderation continues to become a cultural norm encouraged by governments, lower alcohol wines will be promoted by entities such as states the EU and initiatives such as DrinkWise. In Sweden the alcohol monopoly Systembolaget is already encouraging wine importers to present more low alcohol wines to its buyers. Recent listings include wines such as Lindeman’s Early Harvest Semillion Sauvignon Blanc at 5,5% alcohol. According to the brand owner, Treasury Wine Estates, the brand is leader of the lower-alcohol category in Australia, which is worth over AU$50 million. I’m of the belief that you will be able to add an additional 0 on that number within 20 years.
Brand owners: Be early, rather than late
I believe that lower alcohol still wines will become a regular choice for drinkers within 10 years. With lower alcohol I mean wines below 12 percent alcohol, and as low as 5-7 percent. If you are a wine importer without low alcohol wine in the portfolio, this is the time to create your first low alcohol wine. At Premium Wine Broker we have partnerships with wineries that can provide high quality low alcohol wines in bulk, we are one of the few brokers that work with these wines. Let me show you what we got! Send me an email.
/ Cruz Liljegren, wine broker