Allegrini 2018

Alcohol-free wine, still a “niche” market but growing, in the spotlight “ProWein”

While the debate is ongoing in Italy and in Europe, WineNews has analyzed the trend from the voices of production and business in Düsseldorf
Alcohol-free wine, among the market trends at “ProWein”

It looks like wine, but it’s not, or maybe it is. In any case, the trend of low-alcohol or alcohol-free wine is gaining ground, because, on the wave of an offer of low/no alcohol drinks that has increased exponentially in recent years in many countries of the world, it represents a market that is still “niche” worldwide, estimated at 322 million euros, out of a total of 7.5 billion euros, largely covered by beer, according to a recent Areté study for the EU Agriculture Commission, but which is growing rapidly. And while the debate is ongoing in Italy, where both producers and institutions, beginning with the Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida, are not opposed to “zero alcohol” wine but say they do not call it “wine”, and in Europe, where the need for community legislation that sheds light, particularly in terms of labeling is leading the way, this is one of the market trends, recorded by WineNews, from “ProWein” in Düsseldorf, and which sees more and more producers investing in it and operators specializing in the segment, seeing in it great potential to reach new categories of consumers and on the wave of increasingly “healthy” consumption, especially among young people, who are more attentive to healthy lifestyles and inclined to try new products.
“We began producing these wines last year, starting with three labels that we presented at “ProWein 2022”, then added another wine in August, and today we are present at its 2023 edition in Düsseldorf with seven wines - explains Christian Nett of Bergdolt-Reif & Nett to WineNews. I come from a winemaking family, and we’ve noticed that customers frequently ask for low-alcohol or de-alcoholic wines. We had been looking for a partner who could maintain the quality of traditional wines in alcohol-free wines since 2018, and we finally found him in 2022 and began. We use vacuum distillation to make quality de-alcoholic wines, and we have developed a system to recover the aroma from the alcohol that has been removed. Traditional wine and alcohol-free wine, I believe, are intended for two different types of customers, but for the time being, we only offer alcohol-free wine to our traditional customers. And I must say that restaurateurs and wine shop owners are considering expanding their product offerings to their customers. But I also believe this product is intended for the 30-40% of people who have never consumed alcohol for various reasons, such as health or religious beliefs. They are not, of course, people who attend wine fairs or festivals or visit wineries, but they may be interested in this product, and our mission is to inform them about it. We produce 400,000 bottles per year in total, and we produced 25,000 alcohol-free bottles last year, which is quite a number considering we started from scratch. We produce 2,000 liters at a time, and I must say that we are constantly bottling: I believe we will reach 40,000 bottles this year, which is 10% of our total production. Because the market request is shifting towards this type of product”.
“The worldwide alcohol-free wine market represents just under 1% of the total, but it is growing by 10-20% a year, therefore very rapidly - Frédéric Chouquet-Stringer, founder of the German Zenotheque, underlines to WineNews GmbH, specialized in the online sale of alcohol-free wines - the most important markets are Germany (which is worth 69 million euros, according to estimates, ed), the United States (1 billion euros), Scandinavia, the United Kingdom (the market for low/no alcohol alternatives to spirits, with sales of 98 million euros), the Netherlands and Japan, while France (where low alcohol content wine reached an estimated market value of 166 million euros) and Italy (where the market for low/no alternatives to spirits reached 8 million euros in 2021, compared to 78 million euros in the French market, with - partially - de-alcoholized wine worth 30 million euros euro) are beginning, slowly start to grow, and the French, in particular, are taking a great interest in this product. Many consumers of alcohol-free wine today are people who don’t normally drink wine or who want to drink less of it. With the passage of time, we see that the consumer is changing, and there are people who appreciate wine but prefer not to drink it at certain times but do not want to give up the feeling of drinking wine. It is also a product that vegans and flexitarians appreciate, and there are people who want to drink a good alcoholic wine on Saturday evening at dinner but prefer an alcohol-free wine at the company meeting on Tuesday. We must begin by assuming that it is a compromise: I agree that it is not 100% wine, but it is wine by law, and the European Union calls it wine, so let us return to the world of wine. After all, it’s wine at first, then there’s fermentation and the taste of fermentation, and when you taste good non-alcoholic wines, you’re really close to the taste of wine and far from the taste of grape juice. The best way to convince people is to let them taste the product. Concerning the debate over whether an alcohol-free product can be called wine, I am currently focused on the quality of the product rather than knowing what it is, but this will change in the medium term as the number of products on the market increases, and the consumer will need to know if it is wine or something else and how to classify it. The OIV-Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin is already working on it, and it will be a great job. Similarly, demonstrating the quality of the product to the final consumer will become increasingly important. This phenomenon will alter the wine market in the next 2-3 years, and I believe the traditional wine market will decline dramatically over the next 20 years. Statistics show that young people between the ages of 18 and 24 do not drink alcohol, that the majority of consumers are 45 and older, and that consumption is declining every day. I also believe that producers are unaware of this phenomenon: alcohol-free wine could be the solution to this problem, and if it is made known to new consumers, it will be profitable in the long run”.

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