Many consumers are embracing a more mindful approach to their eating and drinking habits, including a demand for healthier options and for transparency of ingredients and nutritional information. They’re also driving growth in the non-alcoholic (NA) wine category, which appeals to a range of age demographics but seems to resonate most with the Millennial consumer.
Mark Giordano, president of Giesen Group importer Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, said his company has seen a rise of sober-curious consumers and traditional wine consumers who enjoy the option of taking a break from alcohol from time to time, or even just pacing themselves over a dinner or evening out with friends. Giesen 0% – an alcohol-removed range of premium wines from New Zealand – has played a big part in the rising non-alcoholic beverage trend, as well as the health and awareness movement taking place in the United States.
To date (August 2022), Giesen 0% has more than 2,600 accounts with 3,400 points of distribution. Of those, 300 are on-premise accounts. The non-alcoholic wine brand has also received numerous third-party endorsements, including recognition from Forbes, Men’s Health, Washington Post, Bloomberg and Food & Wine.
For on-premise venues, Giesen believes updated menus that include notations for Gluten-Free, Vegan and Dairy-Free options – along with calorie information – are part of the overall awareness, responsibility and wellness movement. In that same vein, having transparency and options with NA wines, beers and mocktails is key for drink menus.
“Customers seek NA options out for a variety of health reasons — from simply abstaining or pacing themselves over the course of a meal — and to embrace being present,” said Giordano. “Enjoying a great wine before and during a meal doesn’t need to mean consuming alcohol. There’s tremendous potential for quality and well-crafted non-alcoholic wines on restaurant BTG [buy the glass] lists.”
While non-alcoholic wines (or alcohol-removed wines) is still a growing category, education is key. Giordano said staff training at bars and restaurants could go a long way, as the category is going to grow not only with restaurant listings, but with the endorsement and word-of-mouth from bartenders, servers and sommeliers.
“When we gain distribution of one of our Giesen 0% wines, the listing produces repeat sales and expanded distribution for the range of wines,” shared Giordano. “Securing a retail or restaurant listing is only half of the challenge, and when a wine ‘pulls’ based on consumer demand, it’s very gratifying to know you have a ‘winner’ and are servicing a population of consumers.”
A New Appreciation of Alcohol-Removed Wines
The process for making Giesen 0%’s alcohol-removed wines begins with a full-strength Giesen wine as a base. This ensures that the final wine has the aroma and flavors expected of the full-strength equivalent. Then, through advanced spinning cone technology – which allows for gentle alcohol extraction through low-temperature, vacuum steam distillation – the aroma is first removed from the wine, followed by the alcohol. Giesen 0% then blends the alcohol-removed wine, aroma essence and a touch of grape juice to round it out.
“Giesen is the only winery in New Zealand that owns its own spinning cone technology, and we keep it running 24/7 to keep up with global consumer demand,” noted Shouler. “Alcohol brings body and texture to wine, so to compensate for it, we carefully reincorporate the original aromas and a small amount of grape juice into the dealcoholized wine to give it the body and flavor profile we love in full-strength wine.”
Giesen 0% Chief Winemaker Duncan Shouler said they’ve found in their consumer base an increasing desire for moderation. In fact, reports show that 66 percent of millennials are actively working to lower their alcohol intake, and 56 percent of millennials now consider themselves to be “mindful drinkers.”
“Most of our consumers are habitual wine drinkers, and they want the experiential aspect of drinking wine while also prioritizing their own wellness choices,” said Shouler. “With alcohol-removed wine, many people have come to realize that an appealing option exists that includes both of these elements. This has driven a larger demand for premium, high-quality, dealcoholized wines that match the flavor and experience of drinking full-strength wines.”
Giesen 0% wines have minimal calories – only about 19 to 27 per 5 ounce serve – which is appealing to those trying to be conscious of calorie intake.
Currently, Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc is the top-selling premium non-alcoholic wine in the United States, while Giesen 0% Rosé is No. 2 (after one month of data to report); the 0% Pinot Grigio has also been popular.
During the U.S. spring and summer seasons, many wine drinkers have been drawn to the dry, crisp flavor and light body of the Giesen white and rosé 0% offerings, and Shouler anticipates an uptick in their 0% Premium Red Blend this fall as temperatures cool; it offers a richer tannin profile, but the fruit-forward and well-balanced style also works for warm weather occasions.
Giesen is also planning to release its Giesen 0% Riesling this fall to round out their portfolio.
“There aren’t many premium non-alcoholic wines to choose from, so honestly, we currently have the challenge of keeping up with demand across our range,” said Shouler.
To learn more about Giesen 0%, visit Giesenwines.com.
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