“Non-alcoholic wine has been around for a while but we’re now talking to major retailers, supermarkets and liquor stores.
“It’s got a lot to do with … customers being more choosy about what beverages they’ll buy and turning away from soft drinks. Now, they’re after premium.”
It tends not to be a movement of complete abstinence, but more of mixing drinks according to the occasion. Someone might choose non-alcoholic wine over lunch, for instance, so they can still work efficiently afterwards, and drive back to the office, or might vary them over an evening so they’re not hungover the next day.
More advanced production methods are constantly being developed to remove the alcohol from a wine that’s been fermented and matured rather merely mixing grape juice and sparkling water as was done mostly in the past. As a result, some consumers in taste tests conducted by Edenvale were unable to tell the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines.
“I think a lot of people are surprised by its taste and aroma,” says Andrade. “And it only has half the sugar of normal wine, fewer calories, more antioxidants, and it tends to be cheaper as you don’t have to pay excise on it.”
Others have been quick to note the trend too. Entrepreneur Irene Falcone, the founder of health store Nourished Life, six months ago set up another mostly online business, Sans Drinks, selling and packaging non-alcoholic wines and beers. She says she receives 300-plus daily orders and is now on course to turn over $10 million through the next financial year.
“I’m talking to a lot of younger people who love a glass of wine or champagne but realise it isn’t good to be drinking every night,” Falcone says.
“But they enjoy it. So they’re now realising they can enjoy wine or beer without alcohol instead. My mission is to make it sexy and relevant and women are loving it … We’ve always had a drinking culture in Australia, but that’s changing.“
Another e-commerce platform to climb on board has been Craftzero, curating alcohol-free wines, beers and spirits for the #SoberCurious generation.
“While Australians are more open to zero-alcohol beers and mocktails made with zero-alcohol spirits, it’s wines that have been playing catch-up,” says co-founder Sherif Goubran. “We’ve seen significant gains made in the quality and quantity of non-alcoholic wines and they’re proving a popular choice.”
One of Falcone’s favourite wine producers is market newcomer Newblood which launched their alcohol-free line early last year, starting with a shiraz and a chardonnay. The brand’s co-founder, Steve Saffotti, says its buyers are “female-dominant”.
Alcohol-free beer sales are also climbing. The award-winning Mornington Peninsular Brewery has just launched their first non-alcoholic pale ale, as one of the first craft beers to join the array of non-alcoholic lagers.
“Craft beers are hoppier and have more flavours to play with, so you can mask the lack of alcohol,” says Tribe Breweries’ Roland Thiemann.
He adds: “I don’t think [this trend is] a fad; it’s something that’s long-term.”
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