Will the world ever accept non-alcoholic wine?

A recent study found that in 11 important OECD nations, 36% of people reported that they had increased their consumption of alcohol during lockdown. Parents of young children, and people with high incomes noticed their alcohol consumption rise the most.

The OECD offers a variety of options to address this worrying rising trend, such as “limiting the promotion of alcohol among young audiences”, “strengthening police controls to prevent road accidents due to alcohol” and “setting pricing policies to limit the financial accessibility of alcohol” to stop drinking too much alcohol.

There’s an alternative for wine promotion: promoting it with low or no alcohol content. This strategy is already proving results with alcohol-free beverages like beer and non-alcoholic drinks such as whisky and gin, especially for millennials.

Even though they are still marginal, non or low-alcohol (NoLo) drinks currently account for 3percent of the world’s beverage alcohol market in ten of the world’s major economies, with global value of $4,520 millions in 2020.

A legitimate issue

Dealcoholized wines are made by the gradual, or complete elimination of alcohol by evaporate, reverse osmosis, or by preventing fermentation.

The things mentioned above can be accomplished, however the biggest problem is to remove the alcohol and not alter the flavor that the wine has. A lot of progress has been made on this front, however in the present, dealcoholized wine doesn’t taste as like the traditional wine and is not an alternative that is truly authentic.

If we are able to create a drink that tastes just like it’s real counterpart, can be considered an entirely or partially dealcoholized item “wine”? Our research conducted in 2019 revealed that the changes in quality of alcohol in a drink determines the way people classify it. A small percentage of those who participated in our study recognized low-alcohol wine as an alcohol-based wine.

In a separate, forthcoming study, we found the limitations of acceptance of this brand new product. About two-thirds of potential buyers consider alcohol to be a significant characteristic of the product and think that this product is not part of “wine. “wine” category at all.

The majority of consumers don’t recognize dealcohol-based products as wine. PxhereCC BY

Regulations also influence on the legitimacy of. For instance, the law of France is one example. It declares the wine to be “a drink that results exclusively from the complete or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes (crushed or not) or from grape must”, with a booze amount of more than 8.5 percent.

Take out the alcohol, and the wine will not be legally considered wine.

The issue of categorizing

Wine isn’t the first item to be confronted with the challenges of categorizing it in this manner.

In Europe the European Union, the term “milk” is defined by regulation to mean “the produce of the milking of one or more cows”. In 2017 the European Court of Justice enforced the regulation interdicting the use of the terms “milk” and “cheese” to refer to the plant-based versions of these items in response to claims by dairy producers that the use of such labels could be confusing for consumers.

However, when it concerns meat meat, there is a difference. European Parliament decided in 2020 to authorize the use of meat-related terms for describing plant-based meals. In this way the words “veggie burgers”, “soy steaks” and “vegan sausages” can all be used within the European Union.

The only exception is France which has a law that clearly states that terms used for food products of animal origin can’t be used to refer to products that are made from protein sources from plants.

Ongoing debate in Brussels

A increasing number of winemakers both small and large are now producing alcohol-based products that are dealcoholized, and they demand an exemption from using the word “wine” for these new drinks. The current debate is raging in Brussels in the European Commission, where there is a discussion taking place at the European Commission is discussing the reform of the common agricultural policy, as well as the harmonisation of EU rules as well as the re-form of Article 180 regarding wines.

Brussels is currently making decisions about the future of wine. PixabayCC BY

Based on how negotiations develop, we could very soon be able to use “wine” or “wine” to dealcoholised products but in the most strictly controlled and controlled manner.

A regulation that ties these drinks with the wine world likely in the form of an additional category, will allow consumers to recognize these drinks and appreciate the benefits they bring.

The acceptance of alcohol-free or low-alcohol wine will also be contingent on the serious efforts of winemakers and retailers on these products.

When experts are more focused on the legitimacy question the dealcohol-infused wine will be more well-known and consumed and reduce the psychological hurdles that are associated with its consumption. The alcohol content of wine becoming a key criterion in consumer decisions and solve the problems that many prospective buyers are facing today with considering dealcoholised wines as “wine”.

The most important thing is to improve the flavor of wine that does not contain alcohol. It’s possible that soon advancements in dealcoholization techniques can reduce the differences between NoLo and conventional wines, just as it is the case for spirits and beer. What the future holds for these products will be determined by the ability of wine makers to achieve a reduction in the gap in taste.


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