While there are plenty of reasons for skipping alcohol, be it for an evening or a lifetime, there’s one thing that’s for certain: taste should never be sacrificed. Producers have grown wise to this and over the last few years a large crop of alcohol-free wines offer (non)drinkers a wide range of options. Now, there are crisp, bone-dry rieslings made by legendary Alsatian producers, crunchy zweigelts, soft Champagne-style bubbles and aperitivo-style vermouths, all sans alcohol.
Recently, New Zealand’s Giesen reported a whopping 454% growth in shipments to the US in fiscal year 2022. The strong performance highlights growing consumer demand for quality alcohol-removed wines.
Giesen’s 0% wines are dealcoholized via a spinning cone unit that gently distills wine into three layers: aroma, body, and alcohol, removing the latter in the process. Currently, they offer a wildly popular sauvignon blanc, a rosé, a red blend, and a Pinot Grigio. A riesling will follow in fall of 2022.
The sauvignon blanc is the top-selling premium tier (priced over $12) wine in the United States, according to NielsenIQ. President Mark Giordano of Giesen Group importer Pacific Highway Wines notes “the Giesen 0% rosé is the number two selling nonalcoholic rosé (Nielsen, 4 weeks ending 6/30/22). We anticipate a continued fast pace and exciting success with the rest of the line extension over the coming months.”
Late last year, NielsenIQ’s SVP of Account Development, Kim Cox noted there was a 315% increase in online non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic beverage dollar sales in the latest 12 months versus a 26% increase in alcoholic beer, wine and spirits e-commerce sales. Today’s numbers (week ending 6/30/2022) noted that non-alcoholic wine sales are up 22% over the last 52 weeks.
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Online beverage marketplace Drizly announced that the 4th of July weekend of 2022 saw nearly twice as many non-alcoholic wine and beer sales as compared to 2021.
What’s the draw? Not a staunch shift to sobriety, but a change in mindset. For ages, the phrase ‘I am not drinking alcohol’ was a definitive code for sobriety, pregnancy, or designated driving. Now, the choice is more mindful. Perhaps you have to be up early, maybe you just don’t feel like it, maybe you’re pacing yourself — a second of sobriety doesn’t require a reason.
The category is only going to expand. A recent Hinge survey of Gen-Z users found that 75% of users stated grabbing drinks was no longer their go-to for a first date Gen-Z singles are 46% more likely to prefer first dates that don’t involve drinking, compared to the millennial generation before them. Gen Z aside, over half of hinge users preferred non-alcoholic dates — “they want to be in the right state of mind while getting to know their potential partner.”
Nielsen found that 66% of millennials are actively working on lowering their alcohol drinkers, and a whopping 78% of non-alcoholic beverage buyers are purchasing alcoholic beer, wine or spirits.
Part of the category’s growth is fueled by the new diversity. Up until a few years ago, the number of non-alcoholic SKUs was relatively limited, restricted to a few no-proof beers and a couple of brands of alcohol-free wines. Now, there are dozens of brands making over a hundred different options. (Particular favorites include Leitz, Acid League, Blurred Vines and Studio Null, in addition to Giesen.) Likewise, non-alcoholic bottle shops have become hotspots for the non-alc — there’s Sipple in Houston, Awake in Denver, and The Open Road in Pittsburgh. Boisson’s has five different locations across New York and one in Los Angeles.
“This is an opportunity to show consumers that craft and premium alcohol-removed wine are available in many styles,” says Giesen Group Chief Winemaker Duncan Shouler.