Soaring demand for Alcohol-free drinks

The guarantee of a healthier lifestyle for consumers and source of diversification for producers, de-alcoholised product ranges are becoming a full-fledged market segment. With regulatory changes acting as a catalyst, wines with quality endorsements are a part of current thinking about the topic.


  • Unbridled growth
  • Alternative choices…
  • … And a move upmarket
  • Terroir-driven wines?
  • In the experimental stages

Unbridalled growth

The writing is on the wall. The first trade exhibition for de-alcoholised wines was held on 11 February 2024, the day before Wine Paris which hosted 50% more exhibitors in the No/Low category than last year. In 2023, 29 % of French people stated they drank alcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages, rising to 45% of 18-25 year-olds. Similarly, projections suggest there will be a substantial increase in sales within the category over the next few years. According to the American agency, the global market for de-alcoholised wines could reach 5.2 billion dollars by 2033, compared with 2 billion in 2022.

Alternative choices…

But who are these zero-alcohol (or almost) devotees? “Alongside those who abstain for medical or religious reasons or because they don’t like the taste, two thirds of our customers are flexi-drinkers”, shares Augustin Laborde, the founder of Le Paon Qui Boit’, the first alcohol-free concept wine store that launched in Paris in April 2022. Aged between 30 to 40 or senior citizens, they “want to continue to drink alcohol, but not every day and are looking for good quality, unusual substitutes that they will take pleasure in sharing with friends”, adds Laborde. Whereas two years ago he struggled to find products to list, now he is seeing samples flood in every day.

… And a move upmarket

Top wineries have jumped on the bandwagon, like Château La Coste, Château Clos de Boüard and Château Edmus. “Reference to renowned wine regions like Saint-Emilion reassures consumers”, stresses Laborde who has also noticed that “techniques have come along in leaps and bounds, even though their uniqueness makes de-alcoholised products more expensive to produce”. The result is “better crafted wines, with less sugar and more finesse, and even a little length on the palate” which are deliberately closed with cork stoppers to underscore their quality. However, although low-alcohol products “have similar cues to wine and certain aromas”, that’s where the resemblance ends, “especially for the reds”. To avoid any disappointments, Laborde therefore constantly reminds enthusiasts “that they must taste and not compare”.

Terroir-driven wines?

As the wine industry has become more organised by launching the NO/LOW wine collective and European regulations now permit partial de-alcoholisation for wines carrying an official quality and origin endorsement, the PGI wine committee at INAO has come down in favour of this option for wines as low as 6% ABV. This might suggest that AOCs could take the plunge…  “Would this undermine the style of the wine and its connection to terroir or not? What is the level of acceptability for the process among consumers of AOC wines? It’s difficult to answer these questions due to the lack of existing products, claims Christian Paly, chairman of the appellation wine board at INAO. Additionally, introducing the possibility within the AOC space would imply “the complicated co-existence of two types of labelling”.

In the experimental stages

Despite this, missing the boat is not an option. In order to make informed decisions before positioning itself, the national board at INAO has decided to provide regional appellations that want to analyse the issue with a technical framework for experimentation. Côtes du Rhône have already signed up for it. Concurrently with this, the board commissioned France Agrimer to conduct prospective research into de-alcoholised AOC wines. Christian Paly warns: “Until we have conclusive answers to our questions, we will not be introducing de-alcoholisation into production specifications”. The message couldn’t be clearer.

Florence Jaroniak.

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Sources :,’%C3%A0%200%2C5%20degr%C3%A9s.