Skinny wine market set to pop?

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CGA research over the last few years has consistently flagged up low-calorie cocktails as a growing trend in drinks—and ‘skinny’ wines might be about to follow them into the mainstream.

They are certainly being backed by Mitchells & Butlers, which is rolling out a ‘Skinny Fizz’ wine brand to more than 400 UK sites this month. Produced with Milton Sandford Wines, it is a traditional sparkling Spanish wine but with barely a gram of sugar per bottle.

M&B’s wine procurement manager Henry Boyes says it caters for changing drinking habits. “There is a real consumer pull for low calorie and low sugar products, particularly in the growing area of sparkling wine.” The Skinny Fizz tastes as good as other choices, he adds, and is far from a gimmick.

The wine joins other innovations in healthy drinking lately, like gluten-free beers and more sophisticated low-calorie soft drinks—and the profile of the latter segment is going to become even higher when the government introduces its ‘sugar tax’. These health-conscious developments have coincided with increasingly forceful messages from some quarters about the need for moderation in drinking.

The healthy drinking movement has actually been around sporadically in wine for some time—including the introduction of early alcohol-free wine brands, such as Eisberg, in the 1980s. The concept struggled for traction for a while, with the difference in taste from conventional wine reckoned too significant for most drinkers. But production methods have improved dramatically over the intervening decades, with the science behind the removal of ethanol also keeping pace to greatly improve the quality of the end product. As a result, it is now stocked in many major supermarkets as well as within the on-trade.

CGA research indicates that non and low alcoholic wine products remain quite niche – accounting for less than 1% of total GB still wine on trade volumes - but the combination of the healthy lifestyle message and better production technology is making them much more visible to consumers. With the backing of M&B’s pubs and bars like All Bar One and Nicholson’s, there are prospects for the Skinny Fizz brand to capture the public’s imagination too. CGA will be monitoring this sector carefully in the coming months and years.