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Wine drinkers in favour of lower alcohol levels

Nearly half of UK wine drinkers said they would buy a wine with an alcohol level of just 9% abv – provided that taste is not compromised – a new survey has revealed.

Some 42% of the 800 wine drinkers surveyed said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ buy a 9% abv wine, while 59% of all respondents claimed they liked the concept of such a wine.

The survey was commissioned by UK agent and importer PLB, and US-based TFC Wines and Spirits, which specialises in lower-alcohol wines, with the results released at a lower-alcohol forum organised by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) in London yesterday (Thursday 1st).

TFC winemaker David Stevens described lower-alcohol wines as the ‘last unconquered frontier’ of the wine industry.

All speakers at the event highlighted the need to tighten up wine labelling laws, and called on the EU to draw up definitions for terms such as ‘lower alcohol’ and ‘reduced alcohol’, which currently do not exist.

WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles added that wines sold in the UK should not be marketed on the basis of their alcohol strength; in addition, wines above 1.2% abv should not be allowed to ‘bear health claims’.

Under current EU legislation – with a few exceptions, such as German Prädikatsweins and Italian Moscatos – the minimum permitted alcohol level of wine is 8.5% abv, with a maximum of 15%, and winemakers are only allowed to reduce alcohol by 2% from their original level.

Dan Jago, UK beer, wine and spirits director at Tesco, believed that some consumers were put off by the ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ element of wines that have their alcohol levels modified.

He said, ‘there’s also a bit of a social leper status to someone who drinks Eisberg (a non-alcoholic wine) on a night out.’

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Written by Stuart Peskett

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