Consumers want less alcohol

18 May, 2007

Tesco is one of several companies launching wines at 9 per cent abv

Tesco is expanding its range of lower-alcohol wines to meet customer demand.

It is adding eight wines after 87 per cent of

customers questioned said they would like to see more lower-alcohol wines.

The selection includes three 9 per cent abv wines from Languedoc producer Domaine la Colombette - Plume Syrah/Grenache, Grenache Rosé and Chardonnay. Also in the line-up will be a 3.9 per cent abv Prosecco from Capriolo in Tuscany and 9 per cent South African Van Loveren Semillon Light Wine.

Head of BWS Dan Jago said consumers were becoming more comfortable with the idea of lower-alcohol wines. Tesco has been working with suppliers to encourage development of lower abv products.

"I talked about the need to reduce alcohol levels even before I joined Tesco," Jago said. "I've been banging on to suppliers about it for 10 years."

He added: "We are going to see more and more lower-alcohol drinks and other retailers will follow our lead."

Jago said he would not expect lower-alcohol drinks to sell at the same rate as the standard versions, but a policy will be developed as the range grows. Tesco has also developed an own-label low-alcohol bottled cider at 0.5 per cent abv.

Other major retailers plan to expand their lower-alcohol offering. Marks & Spencer is looking to source more low-alcohol , according to winemaker Jo Ahearne. Waitrose is also increasing its range in response to growing consumer demand, said wine buyer Nick Room. "We evaluate new wines on a regular basis and are taking more notice of alcohol levels in our range planning," he said.

Room added: "As technology has improved and winemakers have got better acquainted with alcohol reduction techniques to meet this trend in the market, so we are finding more palatable lower-alcohol wines, including the very low and no-alcohol alternatives to full-strength beverages."

Lewis Jones, marketing director at D&D Wines, attributes the rise in popularity of lower-alcohol wines to "adverse publicity about excessive alcohol consumption" and the nation's desire for "healthier lifestyles".

More lower-alcohol wines will be launched at next week's London wine fair. A range of 9.5 per cent abv wines will be shown by McGuigan Simeon Wines, including classic Australian varieties such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Lindemans will show additions to its Early Harvest range, and Chalié Richards has added to its Eisberg de-alcoholised range.

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