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Low alcohol wine essential to future of the trade

Bernard Fontannaz of Origin Wines thinks that it is vital for the trade to bring in new, younger, consumers and thinks low alcohol wines may be the answer.

Bernard Fontannaz

He told the drinks business that the trade must look beyond its own rhetoric and see that low alcohol wines are not only here to stay but that they might also be the key to the wine trade’s future.

“Our consumer base is declining,” he said. “and low alcohol wine is a way to get young consumers into wine and then trade them up the line from there.

“The trade must look outside itself and see that 5.5% alcohol is acceptable to many people.

“The wine category can reinvent itself with low alcohol wines. Young consumers are the drinkers of tomorrow and if you don’t engage with them at an early age you’ll lose them to spirits or beer, not only lose them in fact they just won’t come.

“Wine is still daunting for many people and low alcohol is an easy way to ease them into the category.”

For those doubtful about the merit of low alcohol wines, Fontannaz has no illusions about them, “they are soft, easy to drink crowd pleasers,” he said.

“They are for people who perhaps want to drink less and for those who are new to the category. The regular wine drinker is not the market,” he stressed.

“We in the trade are far too eclectic. Our tastes are not those of the majority of people,” he added before saying that at a recent tasting his “eyes had been opened” by the number of young people aged between 20 and 25 who said they did not enjoy more “traditional” wines but had loved Fairhills’ new “Fair and Light” low alcohol range he was presenting.

“There is a process,” he continued. “Once people started with Liebfraumilch and now they drink Chablis.

“Get them hooked with something easy to drink and they’ll stay. Low alcohol is here to stay and the market is out there.”

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