Drinking no or low-alcohol wines is now a fast-growing lifestyle choice worldwide. In 2018, the demand for wines with no or low alcohol content rose by 8%, while sales of beer and cider with less than 1.2% of alcohol grew by nearly 30%. More customers, especially young people aged 16-24, are looking for a quality wine-drinking experience without alcohol. Young women, in particular, are drawn to low-alcohol wines for their beauty and health benefits. This trend is creating a new market for major drinks companies, vintners and retailers.
The Rise of Low-Alcohol Wines
The world market for non-alcoholic wine and beer is growing and anticipated to record an impressive 7.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2024. Healthy living and teetotalism, particularly among young adults, are continuing to drive sales of low-alcohol wine.
For wines to be classified as low-alcohol, its alcohol by volume (ABV) must be 13% and below. Low ABVs for white wines is 12% or less, while for red, its 13% or less. Under 10% ABV is considered very low. Younger, lighter wines such as Rieslings, Rosés, and Vinho Verdes, as well as Champagne and sparkling wines, usually have lower alcohol content. Meanwhile, fortified wines like port are generally very high in alcohol.
Most wines with below 10% ABV are usually light in body and sweet, perfect for a woman’s taste. Some examples are the German Kabinett Riesling, Italian Moscato d’Asti and French Alsace Blanc. Medium-low alcohol wines, or those with 10–11.5% ABV, are usually produced when less-sweet grapes like the French Muscadet, Italian Lambrusco and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
The Quest for Beauty and Wellness
Drinking low-alcohol wine has several perceived benefits. It can reduce the risk of bowel, breast cancer or liver cancer by 7%, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. It can also lessen bouts of headache and is good for weight control. Drinking wine can prevent aging of the skin because it is packed with antioxidants that restore collagen and elastic fibers.
In China, where health and wellness have become increasingly important, consumers are making the shift to drinking alcohol with lower alcohol content. Chinese female wine drinkers, specifically, are purchasing lighter, sweeter and fruitier wine styles, unlike the Bordeaux-style reds that have traditionally dominated China’s wine industry.
This is a huge opportunity for vintners and retailers, as well. Aside from highlighting how wine can be part of their upscale, sophisticated lifestyle, companies are drawing in female clientele by promoting the health and beauty benefits they can get from drinking low-alcohol wine.
Parting Thoughts on the Rise of Low-Alcohol Wines
The young female drinkers have emerged as one of the most important wine demographic groups, not only in China, but in the world. Overall, the non- and low-alcoholic wine industry has profited from these consumers’ remarkable shift in preference and will continue to do so in the future. For companies, tapping this promising market requires careful and strategic planning to have better chances of success.