NZ invest in low-alcohol and low-calorie ‘lifestyle wines’
Not content with its reputation for zingy sauvignon blancs, smooth pinot noirs, and competitively priced fizz, New Zealand has announced its intention to become the world’s leading producer of decent wines for the discerning but diet-conscious drinker.
With a thirsty eye on the growing market for ‘lifestyle wines’ – with fewer calories and lower alcohol levels – the government has decided to pour NZ$8.13m (about £4 million) into the opportunity.
The seven year investment will fund a world-leading research programme put together by the ministry for primary industries and the New Zealand wine industry.
Philip Gregan, the Chief Executive Officer of New Zealand Wine, said: “This programme will capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for high-quality, lower-calorie and lower-alcohol ‘lifestyle’ wines by developing new, natural techniques for grapevine growth and wine production utilised across the New Zealand wine industry.”
The announcement comes amid growing consumer appetite for lower-alcohol wines. A study conducted over the summer in the UK, the US, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland showed that 38% of wine drinkers – more than 80 million people – were buying wines with alcohol levels below 10.5%.
The popularity of low-alcohol wines could be down to their lower prices. Or people may be motivated to buy lower-alcohol wines thanks to the health benefits of less alcohol, and specifically because there are fewer calories per glass. For example, in the UK 21% of regular wine drinkers choose lower alcohol because it’s cheaper than standard wine, while 20% choose it because it has fewer calories.
Justin Howard-Sneyd agrees there is a demand for wines with less alcohol after decades of wines getting stronger. “Alcohol in wine over the last 30 years has gradually crept up… But people are beginning to give more thought to what – and how – they drink.”
“They’re starting to realise that the wine they’re consuming is of a higher alcohol level than perhaps they were used to and perhaps they were consuming more wine than was good for their waistline and their health. People are thinking of ways to drink a bit less: either drink better wine but less often, or drink the same amount of wine but lower alcohol.”
“It’s a very interesting move from the New Zealand government. If they can produce delicious tasting, high-quality wine that has low alcohol levels, I think that will be welcomed by the industry and by customers, because there definitely is some demand for wines that aren’t quite so alcoholic – but it is a challenge.”
You can read the full story on the Guardian website.