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Low & Zero-Alcohol Wine is YUK

An article in Meininger's Wine Business International by Mark Meek reports that drinks market analyst IWSR forecasted increased demand for low or zero-alcohol wines of almost 18% in the U.S., 7% in the U.K., 4% in Germany and 20% in Spain. The rise in the number of people who avoid alcohol as a lifestyle choice, especially among Millennials, is fueling an interest in low-alcohol drinks, particularly in Europe.

Many have switched to beer because of its lower alcohol content. Heineken reported this week that it had more sales in more than a decade in 2018, and this was partly due to demand for alcohol-free Heineken 0.0.

The problem with low or zero-alcohol wines is that they lack flavor and interest. After water, alcohol is the most significant portion of wine. It supplies calories, stimulates the appetite, offers gustatory pleasure, and leads to relaxation, more social interaction and procreation. Alcohol contributes body, texture, intensity and sweetness that makes fruit in wine seem fuller and broader. Since alcohol is a solvent, it can extract more flavor out of skins, pips and oak barrels during vinification.

Alcohol can also confer health benefits on drinkers, giving those who consume it in moderation and regularly with meals as part of a healthy lifestyle, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and loss of cognitive function and increased longevity. It was Paracelsus, a German physician in the Middle Ages, considered the father of modern pharmacology, who invented the word alcohol and stressed its tonic value. The claims that low-alcohol wine is “healthier,” is only founded on the premise that you can drink more of it with less alcohol intake.

I have tasted a few low-alcohol wines and they are plain bad. Personally, I feel that taking alcohol out of wine removes its heart and soul. Wine with low or zero alcohol becomes a manufactured beverage lacking all of the nuances and attributes that make wine so pleasurable. It is basically grape juice. I say YUK! instead of Cheers!

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