By Elspeth Brown
Every business owner knows that it is important to adjust. To keep your business current and striving, you must be up on current trends. I must keep my current customers while attracting new and different clientele. Trends come and go. After Biggie sang about Cristal Champagne forever, sales were off the charts. Rosé made a boom after Hampton socialites exclaimed that it was the only wine worth drinking. Merlot sales dropped significantly after the main character in the movie Sideways screamed that he was not drinking “any f-ing Merlot.” It doesn’t mean that these wine trends will last forever, like Biggie said, but they are substantial and worth investigating.
Well, the newest trend in the wine industry is low-calorie, sugar-free wines, and it is an important trend to be interested in.
Baby boomers are still my prime market for wine drinkers. Gen Xers are still buying wine, but the millennials are drawn to beer and spirits because they have less disposable income. The wine industry is expected to face a 20 percent decrease in wine over the next ten years, because millennials aren’t drinking as much wine. Today, millennials are looking for wines with a cause and a health benefit to match. In less than a year, low-calorie and non-alcoholic wine has increased by 20 percent, showing that consumers, mostly younger, are interested in a healthier option to put in their wine cellar.
There are increasing options for low-calorie, low-sugar wines in the marketplace. Peter Yealand from New Zealand just released a low-calorie, low-alcohol sauvignon blanc that is delicious. Pét-nat is a great natural, low-calorie, sparkling wine without as much sugar as a traditional sparkling wine. White wines with less alcohol are a safe choice. There are options such as Grüner Veltliner; muscadet, not to be confused with muscadine; and Bordeaux blanc, a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon. If drinking a red wine, stick with a Beaujolais; a pinot nero, also known as pinot noir; or a natural red.
How do you achieve a low-calorie wine? When the winemaker harvests the grapes earlier, there is less sugar to convert during the fermentation process. If the grapes are left on the vine for an extended period, they develop lots of sugars and big, ripe flavors. The result is higher alcohol percentages. Sugar-free wines float right around 9-11 percent alcohol, whereas long-hanging fruit runs anywhere from 13-15 percent. With health being more on the radar and more exercise bikes invading people’s bedrooms, it is no surprise that sugar-free, low-calorie wines are hot right now.
Wine has increased in price substantially. If the wineries want to keep a current and younger clientele, they must readjust their price range to be more affordable for premium wine. Winemakers should focus on environmental issues, climate change and social values that can weigh heavily on the consumer’s decision. The wine industry must start thinking about younger wine drinkers.
Elspeth Brown is the owner of Maggie B’s Wine & Specialty Store, 10 C South Main Street in Weaverville. For information, visit MaggieBsWine.com or call 828.645.1111.