The inclusion of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines in EU legislation is «an important first step». But «an adequate legal and marketing framework for their development is necessary to manage consumer expectations and to guarantee the long-term strategies of wineries». This is the opinion on dealcoholised wines expressed by the giants that took part in the World Wine Cooperative Forum 2022.
A meeting held in Italy, to be precise at the Caviro headquarters in Emilia Romagna, between 18 and 20 October. With these premises, it is easy to assume an increasingly constant pressure and lobbying initiatives towards the European Union, aimed at obtaining more legislative openings on ‘alcohol-free wines’. Including them, one assumes this could be the ultimate goal, among the Denomination of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication (PDO and PGI, for Italy) wines of the EU.
Because, as the top representatives of some of the world’s most influential wineries make clear, «the legal framework should guarantee a level playing field, based on qualitative rules of production and presentation». Translated: traditional wine and non-alcoholic wines should have equal treatment, in the context of production specifications.
Supporting this, together with Caviro, are Capel, Fecovita, La Riojana, Vicca, Cenecoop, Aurora, Garibaldi, Sao Joao, Nova Alianca, Pradense, Cevipe. And again: Val D’Orbieu – Cordier, Vinadeis, Baco D-Coop, Cuatro Rayas, Manjavacas, Martin Codax, Porto do Barca, Adega Vila Real and CCWCoop. That is, some of the world’s largest wine cooperatives, based in Italy, Spain, France, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Brazil, Australia and Bolivia.
DEALCOHOLISED WINES IN THE EU: HOT DEBATE
Everything would be based on the growing market demands for the low and no-alcohol beverage segment. «Demand is growing – Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, secretary general of the Ceev – Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins points out to winemag.it – and if wine companies do not “capture” it, others will do so with non-wine-based products».
After all, «as more and more people choose to drink “less and better”, the universe of low and zero-alcohol beverages is rapidly expanding and improving in quality».
According to recent research by InsightAce Analytic, the global market for low and zero alcohol beverages is valued at $22.5 billion in 2021. And it is expected to reach $68.9 billion by 2030. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14%, over the forecast period 2022-2030.
Beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, a.k.a. AB InBev, which markets brands such as Corona, Leffe, Stella Artois, Tennent’s and Becks, has stated that it intends to achieve at least a 20% share of the global volume marketed with its low or zero-alcohol products by 2025.
ALCOHOL-FREE WINES VS. TRADITIONAL WINES IN THE DO’S AND IG’S
«While the category of low and no-alcohol products is dominated by beer – Ignacio Sánchez Recarte goes on to explain – some studies indicate wine between 0% and 0.5% alcohol by volume as the fastest growing sector. With an increase of 26% and consumers identified mainly as “over 45”. Regular wine drinkers looking to cut down on spending during the week, without sacrificing wine-related ceremony or taste».
«Considering that these innovative grape-based products have never been marketed in the EU as “wine”, Ceev strongly supported the definition of these products within the EU wine legislation».
The demands of the industry were incorporated into the wine legislation in December 2021. «But although partial and total dealcoholisation is authorised for wines without a geographical indication or designation of origin – the Ceev secretary continues – only partial dealcoholisation is currently authorised for wines with a protected geographical indication or designation of origin».
A detail that, at the moment, bars the way for global wine cooperatives wishing to invest in the EU’s non-alcoholic wine market (elsewhere already flourishing, see the United States). Meanwhile, in Italy, taking giant steps towards alcohol-free wines is the large-scale retail trade.
On the shelves of Esselunga, one of Italy’s largest retailers, “Virgola Zero“, an Alcohol Free Sparkling wine produced from a Riesling from the Mosel region by South Tyrolean producer Martin Foradori (Hofstätter), owner of Dr. Fischer in Germany, has been on sale for a few months now. The same winery markets another alcohol-free sparkling wine, “Steinbock“, which was presented at Vinitaly in 2021.