France is becoming a leading source of innovation in the no-alcohol wine category.
The alcohol-free category within the wine sector presents a fascinating but elusive opportunity for winemakers. The category is littered with a history of poor quality products which have been more of an endurance than an enjoyment for consumers. However the motivations to drink wine without alcohol – religious beliefs, health or fitness regimes and even the hope of saving some money – has not changed. Arguably, potential consumer demand for the category today is greater than it has ever been.
France appears to be one of the leading sources for innovation in the vin sans alcool category. Le Petit Béret, for example, has now released a range of beverages without a single trace of alcohol. Their manufacturing process eschews any alcoholic fermentation and produces a drink that is free from alcohol, sulphite and preservative, yet claims to mimic the taste of alcoholic wines. To do this the company enlisted the help of Dominique Laporte, one of the foremost and respected sommeliers in France, to craft a no-alcohol product with the same standard and harmonious balance we expect to find in wine.
As there is no fermentation process, this particular product can’t use the term “wine” to describe itself. However the product can be found in the wine aisle and on restaurant wine lists, and uses graphics like the one illustrated here to describe its process.
There are other brands, such as Domaines Pierre Chavin, that have also recognised the market potential. Unlike Le Petit Béret, their ‘wines’ undergo the typical fermentation process before employing the use of a ‘spinning cone’. The cone uses centrifugal force to remove traces of alcohol. One such wine, the Gold Arabesque, is an alcohol-free sparkling wine with 24 carat gold flakes that has found success among drinkers in the Middle East and South East Asia.
The brand has a trend-focused strategy. They have various categories of wine as alcohol-free, organic, ready-to-drink, trendy, haute couture and prestige. Among the alcohol-free category, there are red, white and sparkling wines but there also wines with innovative characteristics. There are “Legea light” or “Silhouet’” wines that are sweetened with stevia in a bid to lower the calorie count. Silhouet mainly uses marketing materials, which claim that it “embodies femininity and lightness” to target women . Indeed, one of the founders had the idea to launch the alcoholic collection when she was pregnant. Many of the alcohol-free wines are from the Chardonnay grape variety or from variety as Merlot or Grenache – full of ripe, sweet fruit. There are also colourful wines as “Perle Bleu” or “Perle Rose”.