The lighter wine category is becoming increasingly popular, which can be attributed to the wellness and moderation trend that is sweeping the globe. As consumers place more of an emphasis on their health and wellbeing, lighter wines have a growing fan base both internationally and locally. A light wine contains less than ten percent alcohol by volume, which is around 25 percent less alcohol than a full-strength version of the same label.
Tapping into this market, Lighter Wines was established in 2014 with the vision of positioning New Zealand as number one in the world for top quality, lighter in alcohol wines. Lighter Wines is a seven-year research and development programme designed to produce naturally lighter wines that boast the same quality, flavour and varietal character as their higher-alcohol counterparts.
“Our mission was to do this naturally while maintaining the full flavour and mouthfeel that New Zealand wines are famous for,” said Dr David Jordan, of NZ Lighter Wines.
The programme has partnered with 18 participating wine companies including Accolade Wines, Allan Scott Wines, Constellation Brands, Forrest Wines, Geisen Wine Estate, Indevin, Kono, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Marisco Vineyards, Mount Riley Wines, Mt Difficulty Wines, Pernod Ricard, Runner Duck Estate, Spy Valley Estate, Villa Maria, Whitehaven Wine Company, Wither Hills, and Yealands.
The UK is currently experiencing a growing appeal for lighter wines from New Zealand as they are fully flavoured and naturally lower in alcohol, making them much more appealing to UK premium wine drinkers.
“Worldwide, premium wine drinkers are experiencing a growing number of occasions where they want to enjoy a glass of full flavoured, quality wine, but moderate their alcohol consumption at the same time. Lower alcohol wines, especially those sold in the UK, are traditionally sub 5.5 percent and artificially de-alcoholised. This hugely affects the quality and flavour which has led to negative consumer perceptions overseas.”
New Zealand is seeing a similar demand, with more than half of premium wine drinkers here buyers or potential buyers of lower alcohol wines.
“Domestically, the lighter in alcohol wine category has enjoyed a four-year compound annual growth rate of +17 percent, now accounting for around 6-8 percent of the sales of key varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Rosé.”
In restaurants, it is becoming increasingly important to provide lighter wine options for the growing number of diners looking to moderate their consumption of alcohol while still enjoying a glass of premium quality wine.
After leaving a viticulturist position in 1994, Dr David Jordan established Vine to Wine to Market as a business advisory company to help those who shared his passions. Dr Jordan provides advice for all aspects of viticulture, primarily the production of grapes for wine in vineyards. “My knowledge of the wine industry means I’m able to provide wine business advice and insights into research strategy and implementation.”
Dr Jordan created the founding format and development of the NZ Winegrowers Sustainability programme and was a key member in initiating the NZ Lighter Wines Programme and has been the manager for this since its establishment.
“I’m also hugely proud of the numerous improved and awarded wines from vineyards that have been clients of Vine to Wine to Market. I think my strong technical background with broad and well-established networks within the wine industry and wine research communities has placed me well suited to coordinate this multi-faceted research programme.”