jamie goode's wine blog: Reduced alcohol wines: time for a new category?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Reduced alcohol wines: time for a new category?

Today in London there's a forum on low alcohol wines. Technology such as the spinning cone and reverse osmosis mean that it's now possible to reduce the alcohol level of finished wines without damaging the wine flavours all that badly. And with the recent media push towards lower alcohol wines, could we be seeing the birth of a new category of wine here, with reduced levels of alcohol?

One of the leading companies operating in this area is called TFC Wines, who already have a low alcohol wine called Sovio on the market. It's a 5.5% Sparkling White Zinfandel, which can't legally be called wine (it's described as 'made with White Zinfandel'), and it's £4.99 in Tesco.

Perhaps more interesting to wine lovers are their other wines, which have alcohol contents of 8, 9 and 11%. I've met with their winemakers and tried their wines, and come away quite impressed.

There's also a French producer, Domaines Auriol, who have recently launched a range of three wines from the Languedoc at 9% alcohol. Here, a modified form of reverse osmosis has been used to bring the alcohol levels down.

While techniques that reduce alcohol in a finished wine seem quite manipulative, the results are much better than those obtained by picking grapes very early, which is used for some of the lower alcohol wines found on supermarket shelves.

I wrote quite a long piece on this for Wine Business International. An updated version of this, with some new material, is available here.

Labels: ,


At 12:06 PM, Anonymous IrisLisson said...

The pioneers in the French Languedoc region for this kind of wines were Francois et Vincent Pugibet from the Domaine "La Colombette" near Béziers.

They still needed a special authorisation to bring down their wines to around 9° - they are labeled "plume" which means feather - I tasted the white ones some years ago at the Prowine fair in Duesseldorf and found them quite convincing.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

La Plume is quite enjoyable, but it definitely tastes thin next to normal strength wines. All the La Colombette wines have relatively low alcohol levels as far as I know.

At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While an interesting concept I think many people miss the point that alcohol is a core component to wine. It adds body alters the volatility of aromatic compounds and brings flavor components to the wine. While removing alcohol through newer methods may not “damage” the wine per-se it will most definitely not be the same product less the intoxicating effect of alcohol. It will be product with very different mouth feel, aromatics and flavor profiles than its brethren. Again I think the category has merit but I caution people not to compare the two products apples to apples as they are essentially two very different products and it’s an unfair judgment of both.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Dave said...

Is it not just easier to enjoy wine in smaller measures?

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Owen Edwards said...

If unit pricing comes in, might Germann Kabinett wines have a good USP?

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Technology such as the spinning cone and reverse osmosis mean that it's now possible to reduce the alcohol level of finished wines without damaging the wine flavours all that badly."

Complete rubbish, that last remark, Jamie!

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about instead of de-alcing, we in this industry simply PICK THE FRUIT ON TIME!!!!! Slightly earlier harvesting than typical brings to the crushpad lower sugar content and higher natural acids. It's a "two-fer". Lower alc AND we don't have to dump fake granular tartaric and citric acids in the must.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

I guess you could say that low alcohol wines already exist, without intervention. Some of those Astis are pretty low in alcohol, Mosel too, and don't forget vinho verde and the vinho leve (light wine) of southern Portugal. These often use Moscatel as their base grape, so mouthfeel is retained even with alcohol levels around 9%


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home