May 4, 2021
For a nation founded on alcohol, with rum as its very first currency, it’s a shock to hear that Australia’s fastest growing drinks category is now non-alcoholic wine.
Worth last year more than $4.5 million, the category is becoming so popular and expanding so rapidly, at an annual rate of 800 per cent, its value could be as big as $15 million by the end of 2021, according to global data company IRI.
Irene Falcone started her retail business Sans Drinks six months ago, with non-alcoholic wines growing in popularity
“It is a trend that shows no signs of wavering ... driven by a global trend toward mindfulness and health and wellness,” says Scott Burton, marketing director of Australian Vintage Ltd, which in 2019 launched its non-alcoholic McGuigan Zero wine range that now includes a sparkling, sauvignon blanc, rosé, chardonnay and shiraz.
Especially with the advent of COVID-19, Burton believes Australians are more health aware than ever before and are now putting more thought into moderating the amount of alcohol they consume, possibly after overdoing it in lockdown.
Research has found three out of 10 consumers aged 18-34 choose no or low-alcohol wine because they are on a diet, while some want to drink and drive (wisely).
“These consumers still want to feel part of the occasion, they still want to enjoy a glass of well-crafted wine with the same great taste just minus the alcohol,” Burton says.
The brand Edenvale was among the first pioneers of no-alcohol wine in Australia, starting their production in 2006. They now have 18 varietals, including a blanc de blanc, a sparkling shiraz and a sparkling rosé.
“It’s been growing for a couple of years now but probably in the last few months there’s been an explosion ... especially from new start-ups,” says Edenvale national business manager Paul Andrade.
“Non-alcoholic wine has been around for a while but we’re now talking to major retailers, supermarkets and liquor stores.
“It’s got a lot to do with ... customers being more choosy about what beverages they’ll buy and turning away from soft drinks. Now, they’re after premium.”
It tends not to be a movement of complete abstinence, but more of mixing drinks according to the occasion. Someone might choose non-alcoholic wine over lunch, for instance, so they can still work efficiently afterwards, and drive back to the office, or might vary them over an evening so they’re not hungover the next day.
More advanced production methods are constantly being developed to remove the alcohol from a wine that’s been fermented and matured rather merely mixing grape juice and sparkling water as was done mostly in the past. As a result, some consumers in taste tests conducted by Edenvale were unable to tell the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines.
“I think a lot of people are surprised by its taste and aroma,” says Andrade. “And it only has half the sugar of normal wine, fewer calories, more antioxidants, and it tends to be cheaper as you don’t have to pay excise on it.”
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