Stocking low and no-alcohol wines and beers is a ‘must’ for Scottish outlets as demand continues to grow.
That was the message from wine wholesalers and brewers, who say the combined effects of the lower drink drive limit, which came into force in December 2014, and a general increased focus on healthier lifestyles means consumers are seeking low and no-alcohol options in pubs and bars more often.
Billy Bell, managing director of Wine Importers, which supplies the Torres Natureo range of de-alcoholised wines, said consumers increasingly expect venues to stock – and promote – low and no-alcohol options.
“Every wine list should offer a non-alcoholic wine, even if it is only one bin, and this alternative should be highlighted in with the house offerings,” he said.
“It is also important that waiting or bar staff point out that they have that alternative available at the outset when customers consider ordering. After all, the cost is virtually the same as a glass of house wine so there is no loss of margin and that’s better than many fizzy drink alternatives.”
In order to maximise sales of low and no-alcohol drinks, quality is crucial.
Highlighting the Torres Natureo range, Bell said the taste of the wine is the “main attraction” because it is “properly fermented wine with the alcohol removed through reverse osmosis”. “Consequently consumers taste the real (alcohol-free) thing unlike many other options, which are effectively unfermented grape juice or taste strangely ‘doctored’,” he added.
The importance of quality when it comes to low and no-alcohol options was underlined by brewers.
Larissa Ayres, assistant brand manager for Erdinger Alkohol Frei at Charles Wells, advised licensees to “go with what offers the best taste”. “Make sure you try the beers yourself so you can be sure you’re purchasing a beer of great quality,” said Ayres.
“At the very least, this will help you to get to know its tasting notes so you can talk to your customers about its flavour. At the end of the day, a lower ABV beer is still a beer and you need to treat it as such.”
Ben Jordan, senior category manager for the on-trade at AB InBev, agreed.
“There has previously been a stigma around alcohol-free beer, with consumers defining it by what it is not, rather than what it is,” he said.
“However, the reality is alcohol-free beer is brewed and made with 100% natural ingredients and is a refreshing alternative.”