Can You Imagine Life Without Wine?

24th Sep 2021
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From a cold, crisp white to a warm, rich red: wine is savoured by 75% of us across the world, me included.

But, when I read that the global consumption of wine had fallen by 3% in favour of trendy craft beers, artisan gins and blended whiskies, I started to worry: Are we starting to see the downfall of one of the world’s oldest (and one of my favourite) alcoholic drinks?  And if we are, what can we do to stop it?!

Why are we seeing a downfall in wine consumption?

The global wine market is certainly stagnant and has been so for some time.”  - Wine Industry Advisor

According to research, interest in wine started waning back in 2012: With the arrival of exciting, new alcoholic beers, ciders and spirits; changing consumer tastes, and strong messaging around the negative effects of excessive drinking on our health, we’re not spending as much on wine as we once were.

Plus, because the wine industry is steeped in history and tradition, many winemakers have a notoriously archaic outlook and a crippling fear of change. Many companies within the industry are, therefore, failing to develop new, innovative wine products, processes and services that will enable them to keep up with the fast-paced alcoholic drinks market.

We are killing it with our snobbery and a refusal to listen and see what’s going on around us. We refuse to adapt, maintaining that everything is the way it was 20, 30, 50, 100 years ago. Do you know what happens when we don’t adapt? We die.” – Wine Industry Advisor

If you think about craft breweries or gin distilleries, for instance, they continue to expand because they continue to adapt, evolve and innovate. They’re always researching, developing and launching new, vibrant products, flavours, methods, styles and experiences that delight their customers and put them streets ahead of the same-old-same-old wineries.

The atmosphere in brew pubs, or breweries, is social-oriented, pretensions are left at the door, and you can easily taste products for free.” – Wine Industry Advisor

Rapid and continuous innovation is clearly what works, but can the traditional wine industry compete with this?

Can wine compete with craft beers and artisan gins? 

The emphasis on history, tradition and consistency, which has been the main marketing message for premium wineries for decades, is no longer enough for the wine industry to survive.

To stay alive in such a rapidly changing industry, wine merchants, makers and retailers need to refocus and start travelling in a new direction. They need to leave tradition at the door and start innovating. They must develop new fusions, variants and flavours. They must explore alternative manufacturing processes. They must create novel packaging and cool label designs. But most of all, they must listen to their consumers.

There is an opportunity to be more innovative in wine, which is very exciting. We are seeing a number of crossover products between the BWS categories – for example, gin and wine fusions – and these are vital to bring new consumers to the category.” – Drinks Retailing News

But it’s important that companies don’t innovate just for the sake of it. Innovations need to offer customers a tangible benefit.

Like these three examples, for instance…

The top 3 wine innovations to look out for

As we’ve established, new, trendy beers, ciders and spirits are landing on our supermarket shelves and in our bars, pubs and clubs constantly. The popularity of these products comes down to makers and manufacturers and their ability to think outside the box and refuse to stand still.

A handful of wine companies have adopted this innovative, artisan outlook and have started to introduce new, innovative products, processes and services into the wine marketplace.

Wine innovation #1: Wine in cans 

Back in 2017, Off-Piste ditched the bottles and started distributing their most popular wines in cans. Yes, that’s right – you can now buy wine by the can. Following a roaring success in the US, Off-Piste are the first wine merchants to start distributing their wine in cans to the UK market. And despite what you might think, research is showing that we’re liking the idea. We’re embracing the versatility and convenience that wine in a can offers us.

There is undoubtedly some reluctance on the part of the industry to move away from traditional packaging but if the product tastes good, offers good value for money, is convenient and there is a consumer need for it then people will buy it.” - Drinks Retailing News

Following the successful launch of canned wine by Off-Piste, TWE has since brought out 25cl cans of Blossom Hill Spritz in Elderflower & Lemon, Raspberry & Blackcurrant and Cherry flavours. These are also flying off the shelves because they’re ideal for consumers who want to mix and match a variety of wines, or those who want to try a new wine without forking out for the whole bottle.

Wine innovation #2: Vegan wine

Veganism is a trend that’s been gathering momentum for a while. With the environmental, animal welfare and health benefits that the vegan lifestyle offers consumers, it should come as no surprise that winemaker, Broadland Wineries, have developed a completely animal-free wine range, called “Proudly Vegan.” The entire product is 100% vegan, even down to the ink and the glue used on the labels, and it’s proving to be incredibly popular. So popular in fact, that they’re in the middle of developing a Vegan prosecco!

Wine innovation #3: New blending and manufacturing techniques

Innovation within the wine category is flourishing, with boundaries being blurred by an increasing amount of crossover products and new flavours.” - Drinks Retailing News

Like with whisky distilleries, wine manufacturers like Jacobs Creek are now maturing their wine in whiskey barrels. This new method is giving their wines a new depth of flavour which is going down a treat with their consumers.

Campo Viejo is another winery that’s experimenting with new ways of blending wine and creating new flavours. They’ve developed a white version of their classic red ‘Tempranillo’ by exploiting a natural genetic mutation. And, the new white Tempranillo is proving to be a success, with current sales up by 20%.

How can wine companies innovate?

Innovation requires courage, creativity and money. It’s a risky process and there are no guarantees that a new venture or idea will work. This means that companies who want to innovate could lose time, money and even their reputation if their costly research and development activities amount to nothing. 

But, that’s where R&D tax incentives such as the government-funded R&D tax relief scheme can help. With companies able to claim up to 33% of the costs associated with their experimental work, wineries can lower the costs and the risks that come with developing new and exciting products, processes and services.

After thousands of years, wine will always be part of most people’s lives. The goal is to keep it growing, being prosperous and relevant to the consumer. An important tool for that is INNOVATION.” - Wine Industry Advisor

This article was brought to you by Myriad Associates

Myriad Associates are an R&D tax consultancy that has been filing R&D tax claims, on behalf of their clients, for over a decade. They specialise in working with accountants to support their service offerings and can help you get your clients the maximum amount of R&D tax relief possible.

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