Why is non-alcoholic wine becoming more popular around the world?

It may not be the traditional way to enjoy wine, and it’s certainly not the favourite choice for fine wine aficionados, but non-alcoholic wine is becoming more popular than ever. According to a report from FoodBev Media, the non-alcoholic wine market could be worth $10 billion by 2027.

The report predicts that, between 2019 and 2027, the non-alcoholic wine market will get to a compound annual growth rate of 7%. A percentage of consumers are turning away from alcohol, either completely or in part by cutting down, and this is reflected in this sector’s increasing popularity.

Europe and North America buy the most non-alcoholic wine

Europe consumed more than 40% of the non-alcoholic wine market in 2018. Despite this, it appears that North America is fast becoming the most prominent market for non-alcoholic wine. This region will achieve a growth rate of 8% by 2027.

In a blog earlier this year, Ideal Wine Company looked at the growing interest in low-alcoholic wines. There has been a marked shift in quality in this sector, which is increasing consumer interest in these alternatives to traditional wine. And this report shows that there is also a growing interest for wine with 0% ABV.

Choosing to consume non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirit alternatives is a major trend currently moving the goalposts within the global drinks industry. While there have been low and no-alcohol alternatives on the market for years, the sharp uptake in sales figures shows that there is a general movement in this direction from a percentage of drinks consumers.

Trend for health and wellbeing driving interest in sector

During the past ten years, the non-alcoholic wine market share has markedly increased. Tied in with the overall trend for wellbeing, improving health and making specific choices to boost health, non-alcoholic wine is now positioning itself as one of the beverage categories with the most potential for growth.

Winemakers and producers of other alcoholic drinks are moving their focus towards creating good-quality non-alcoholic and low-alcohol versions of traditional products. This move is supported by various global zero-tax policies aimed at encouraging drinks producers to widen their offering in this category.

At the same time, in some parts of the world, wine drinking is waning slightly. For example, figures show that wine drinking dropped by 0.9% in 2019 in the United States. While this isn’t a huge amount, it is the first drop in consumption figures for a quarter of a century. Last year, wine represented 11% of the total alcoholic drinks sector in the US.

The report also predicts that there will be a huge increase of 99% in online sales of non-alcoholic wine within the same timeframe (2019 to 2027). This follows the same move into ecommerce by fine wine collecting, investing and buying. Key players worth keeping an eye on in the non-alcoholic wine category include McGuigan (Australia), Castel Freres (France) and E&J Gallo (California, US).

Wines from around the world showcased at Wine Paris 2020

Wine Paris 2020 took place between 10 and 12 February 2020. It was the first dedicated wine platform in Paris and was organised in response to market demand. A forecast study by International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) shows that Europe will continue to be the number 1 market for wine over the next five years. And, as part of the expo, IWSR showcased some of its highest rated French wines.

The best French wines on show at Wine Paris 2020

At the IWSC stand, delegates found some of the best French wines from regions all over the country. Wines on show came from Alsace, Cotes du Rhone, Languedoc and Champagne, and were available to thousands of visitors to taste during the three day exhibition.

Each French wine on show at the expo had been given at least 90 points by IWSC’s wine experts. The showcase included the Alsace Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobles Clos des Anges 2015, which scooped the highest number of points from the experts last year at 96.

A gold award winner last year, the wine was praised by judges for a flavour brimming with: “intense spice, white peppercorns, clove cooked pairs, cinnamon and glace chestnuts”. A smooth palate, chalky minerality and citrus acidity cuts through the sweetness, with a smoky spicy feel to finish.

Wines from around the world at Wine Paris 2020
Other winners from the IWSC also showcased at the event included wines from New Zealand, Austria and Italy.

From New Zealand, Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2019 was praised by judges for its “intense lemony… succulent stone fruit nose, followed by a luscious full-bodied complex and layered palate”.

Italy’s Borgo Isolabella Augusta – Nizza DOCG 2015 has vanilla, clove, cherry and fresh ginger flavours, with a complex palate. The judges praised its beautiful texture and well-balanced acidity. And from Austria, the Weingut Rabl Gruner Veltliner Ried Loiserberg Alte Reben 2017 was included thanks to its complexity and intriguing flavours of tropical fruit, orange blossom and peach.

Wine Paris 2020 aims to unite global industry

Wine Paris 2020 brought together 2,200 exhibitors from every French wine region, all showcasing the highest quality French wines. More than 30,000 buyers attended, with at least a third from overseas. The event aims to link together every kind of global wine professional, including importers, restaurant owners, sommeliers, specialised distributors and sales agents to taste the latest vintage wines, discover new wines and trial the extensive range available.

During the event, Wine Paris 2020 hosted Wine Talks, which were round-table discussions among engaging and passionate personalities to share best practice and creativity. This year marked the first joint event between Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris, and the first industry event of the calendar year.

AS well as the conferences and discussions covering industry issues including “The future of French wines in the US” and “Trends and major challenges in the global spirits market.”, there was also heavy promotion for specific industry sectors. These included organic wine and other environmentally forward-thinking choices, and the ‘Be Spirits’ area, which featured 100 brands from 14 countries.

Looking ahead to 2021

French Minister for Agriculture and Food, Didier Guillaume, opened the exhibition and welcomed the inclusivity of combining the two complementary events as a boost to the country’s international influence in the wine industry. The top three countries represented by the trade and industry members at the joint exhibition were the US, Belgium and the UK.

The joint exhibition was so successful that Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris are already preparing for 2021’s event. The plan for next year is to establish an event with even more international scope for visitors, exhibitors, producers and buyers.

It has to be pink sparklers for the best Valentine’s Day wines

Valentine’s Day is a time for clichés. Whether it’s roses and chocolates or jewellery, nothing complements this holiday better than some pink sparkling wine. And, as it happens, sparkling rosé has never been more popular or varied.

While there are still some inferior versions on the supermarket shelves, there are far more higher quality Valentine’s Day wines out there. If you want to stick to the fine wine end of the market, then there’s always a rosé champagne worth trying. Purists may want to stick with something like LeClerc Briant Brut, but a pink fizz could make your Valentine’s Day extra special.

It’s always best to avoid the cheapest pink sparklers, as these tend to be loaded with overly sweet, fake flavours. But as long as you avoid those at the lowest price points, you’ll find plenty of choice to make your February 14th just right.

Champagne will always make a romantic statement, and it does still have the edge for many people looking for the ideal seductive drink. This is despite the fact that there are plenty of competitors on the market now, not least from increasingly popular English vineyards.

Pink and sparkling – the ideal Valentine’s Day wines

Classic French champagnes are even sweeter, richer and riper than they were just a few years ago, thanks to the climate change affecting weather patterns. You don’t have to stick to the Champagne region, of course. France is packed to the brim with often very decently priced pink sparkling wines. Rosé crémants are always worth trying, as they offer a delicious alternative to Champagne and are guaranteed to be of the same quality.

Whatever pink sparkling wine you choose for the most romantic night of the year, keep it away from sweet foods as it doesn’t work well due to the high acidity level. Always opt for a dry sparkling wine and pair with elegant, savoury food like sushi.

Three pink sparkling wines to try

  1. Billecart-Salmon Rosé Brut, from Champagne, France for an indulgent treat. Priced at around £50 per bottle, it’s a nicely priced sparkling wine to enjoy with your loved one this Valentine’s Day. And while it can be tempting to resist the marketing push of pink wines on Valentine’s Day, at its very best sparkling roses are delicious. This version gives a rich fruitiness thanks to the delicate blend using pinot noir.
  2. Nicolas Courtin Champagne Rosé Brut, France. This is a more unusual pink sparkler, with a dry finish and flavours of orange peel and cranberry. It’s better as a food pairing rather than drinking it as an aperitif and goes beautifully with lightly spicy fish dishes. Perfect for that romantic meal for two.
  3. Edoardo Miroglio, EM Brut Rosé, Nova Zagora. This 2011 vintage is best enjoyed this year or next at the latest. It’s a delicate sparkling wine with lots of freshness and summer berry flavours. Expect a creamy richness balanced with apply acidity.

Why low-alcohol wine doesn’t have to be disappointing

Low alcohol wine may be slow to catch on, there are plenty on the market full of flavour. It may even one day become an investment category for fine wine collectors.

Technically, a wine can’t be called a wine if it doesn’t contain alcohol. At least, according to the EU it can’t. However, it’s possible legal definitions like these will change after the UK leaves the EU on 31 January 2020. For now, in order to be called wine, fermented grape juice must have at least 8.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) content.

 

Zero alcohol versus low alcohol wine

But for most people, it’s not the legality of the name that concerns them about non-alcoholic ‘wine’, but rather what does it taste like? Wine with no alcohol at all has a distinctively different flavour.

However, low-alcohol wines are a different story. A winemaker in New Zealand called Dr John Forrest makes a popular range of low-alcohol wines. He says that while he’s happy to drop levels to the EU minimum, he won’t go lower because the alcohol is important for the flavour. According to Dr Forrest, the alcohol volume adds sweetness to the wine’s aroma, “ripeness to the fruit flavours, weight and ‘oily’ mouthfeel.”

Any lower than 8.5% ABV and you lose what Dr Forrest calls “the secondary chemical interactions” of alcohol to the wine. This affects the flavour and impact of its tannins and the complexity of its aroma.

Four low alcohol wines to try

This is probably why any ‘wine’ with zero alcohol definitely does taste different. It will be thinner, lighter and much simpler, without the complexity that wine usually gives the drinker. Good quality low-alcohol wines work by maintaining the robust flavour that people want, without resorting to just replacing the alcohol with sugar. So, we’d definitely suggest sticking to low-alcohol wines rather than cutting it out completely. Here are five of the best that are worth trying.

  1. Forrest The Doctor’s Sauvingnon Blanc 2018

Made in Marlborough, New Zealand, this is a cleverly low-alcohol wine. The work goes in at the vineyard and during production to cut alcohol but not compromise on quality. This version cuts alcohol down to 9.5% ABV but tastes like it’s much stronger. Packed with passion fruit and gooseberry flavours, it’s a lower alcohol wine that fools your palate into thinking it’s more like 14% ABV.

  1. Vale dos Pombos Vinho Verde 2018

This wine comes from the cooler northern region of Portugal and is a great choice if you’re looking for lower alcohol. This one is at 9.5% ABV and is a refreshing wine with a spritzy, citrusy finish.

  1. Les Nivieres Saumur 2018

From the Loire Valley in France, this is actually at 12.5% ABV. While that used to be thought of as an average strength for a red wine, but these days this is certainly on the lighter side. Despite the lower alcohol, this is a rich cabernet franc, rammed with blackcurrant fruits.

  1. Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese 2018

From the Mosel in Germany, this wine generally comes in at less than 8% ABV. It’s a delicious medium sweet Riesling, with a minerally flavour interspersed with spicy mandarin.

The growing popularity of Eastern Mediterranean wine

Wine from the Eastern Mediterranean isn’t always at the forefront of consumers’ minds. However, the region that goes from Lebanon to Croatia is home to many different types of wine. And it’s becoming more popular, thanks to new coverage in the World Atlas of Wine, the most recent edition of which has devoted pages to wine from Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus for the first time.

How is Eastern Mediterranean wine selling internationally?

Greece sells more internationally than the other countries from the region. For example, there has been an upsurge in popularity of wines from Santorini. In 2019, approximately two million hectolitres (each hectolitre = 100 litres) of wine was made in Greece.

From this volume, approximately 90% comes from the 200 grapes indigenous to the country. Around 13% of the total wine volume produced in Greece is exported internationally, and it’s worth about £71 million (82.6 million Euros).

Santorini wines are finally shifting into the fine wine bracket with prices equivalent to those of high-quality white Burgundy. This burgeoning interest in wines from Santorini is likely to have a knock-on effect for collectors and sommeliers.

Georgian wine is exporting more than ever before

Georgia, located at the apex of Europe and Asia is also increasing wine exports. In the second half of 2019, UK based importer Berkmann Wine Cellars began listing wine from a Georgian producer called Tbilvino.

According to data from the Wine Agency of Georgia, in the 12 months leading up to October 2019, Georgian wine exports increased by 20% in value and 11% in volume. It is exported to 50 different countries, with recently opened markets including Sweden, Germany, the UK, the US and Japan. Georgia exports the highest volume of wine to the Ukraine and Russia, with China in third. Interest from Scandinavia, the UK and the US is also increasing the growth of wine from this region.

Turkish wines, while traditionally not particularly successful in international markets, are also kickstarting growth plans. Varieties such as Narince made from an aromatic white grape, and Papakarasi, which makes soft fruity reds have potential for export markets.

Romanian and Israeli wines

There is also an untapped export market for Romanian wine. Philip Cox is the commercial director for Cramele Recas, the largest wine producer in the country. He says that Romania has huge potential thanks to its lengthy history of wine making, and fascinating local varieties. He also says that the country’s ‘flexible legislation’ allows wine producers to pick and choose from a vast range of varieties. Add this to relatively cheap land, low living costs and you have the ingredients for a very successful export market.

Philip says: “[Romania] now has one of the most modern wine industries in Europe, with more than 200 new wineries built in the past decade.” The producer exports to 23 countries, and is nationally distributed in Myanmar, South Korea and Japan.

Over in Israel there is no official wine group pushing for exports. However, there is an unofficial group of wine producers working together to export increasing amounts to the UK wine market.

 

The group is led by Morris Herzogf from Kedem Europe, a specialist in Israeli wine. He believes the biggest challenge is to change people’s perceptions of wine from Israel. He points out that recently sommeliers and wine aficionados are discovering that there are many high-quality wines from the region.

 

Various London restaurants have become buyers for Israeli wine, and professionals are increasingly using it to match the cuisine from the region as it becomes more popular. Winemaker Faouzi Issa heads up the oldest commercial winery in Lebanon, which is called Domaine des Tourelles. He says that the UK is their main market and that: “… consumers [in the UK] are very open to discovering new wines, particularly those with an interesting story.”

 

His wines now reach 25 countries, and over the last ten years his export volumes have increased eight times. However, despite the undoubted increase in exports for wines from the Eastern Mediterranean, it’s likely that they will remain niche for the meantime, and won’t be named on any 2020 wine trends lists. For now, only wines from Georgia, Hungary, Romania and Greece are included on the International Organisation for Vin and Wine (OIV)’s list of countries that make more than one million hectolitres a year.