The Science Behind Nonalcoholic Wine – Smithsonian Magazine

Here is an interesting read from Smithsonian Magazine ….drinking habits are changing, and vintners are exceeding tasters’ expectations with new options stripped of their alcohol.

Market Research Firm Fact. MR estimated that global nonalcoholic wine sales reached $1.6 billion in 2021 and will double in the next decade.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/the-science-behind-nonalcoholic-wine-180980805/

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Berry Bros. & Rudd – Some History and the Women Behind the Brand

On my way to 67 Pall Mall Wine Club for a meeting, I had some time, so I wandered into No.3…Just stepping through the front door it was a feast for my senses …. the ancient floorboards, mahogany wall paneling, antique furniture, Royal Warrants, old wine books and catalogs.  Looking closer I saw portraits of former Royal family members who were regular customers, and a framed letter from the White Star Line informing Berry Brothers of the loss of 69 cases of wine and spirits in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. What history! In short, the Berry Bros. & Rudd head office is a historian’s dream.

No. 3 St. James’s Street, London

No. 3 St. James’s Street is now used as the company’s headquarters. No.3, as it’s known, contained Berry Bros. & Rudd’s main retail premises until mid-2017, when these moved around the corner to a purpose-built shop at 63 Pall Mall.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, founded in 1698, and is Britain’s oldest, family-owned wine and spirits merchant. Still trading from No.3 St James’s Street, London, they have two Royal Warrants and five Masters of Wine on staff. Their services also include Other services it offers include wine investment, wine storage, a wine club, tutored tastings, wine events and educational courses.

Royal Warrants

Berry Bros. & Rudd has been the official wine supplier to the British Royal Family since King George III and received its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1903 from King Edward VII. Queen Elizabeth II granted the company her royal warrant in 1952, while Prince Charles, now King Charles lll, granted his in 1998.

Despite being 324 years old in 2022, Berry Bros. & Rudd remains at the forefront of wine and spirits innovation. Their current range of over than 4,000 wines is sourced from over 25 countries.

Berry Bros. & Rudd seems to embrace progress, and at the same time value their traditions. Still run by members of the Berry and Rudd families and they also continue to supply the British Royal Family, since King George III.

Women of Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bro & Rudd has been run by the same two families for centuries; It has survived world wars and pandemics, but there is a fleet of female leaders who have shown, and now show that this historic business can and emerge stronger than ever.

The family firm began life as a grocery store in 1698, founded by a woman now known as “Widow Bourne.”

Elizabeth Rudd “Lizzy” is the current Chairman, who is currently planting the seed for the next generation with her ambitious sustainability plans and creating affordable wine investments.

Emma Fox, Chief Executive Officer, was appointed July 2020.  She has been an independent director of the firm’s board since October 2017.

“Over the past few years as a director, I have got to know BB&R very well, I share its values and am passionate about a culture where people flourish and have fun,” Fox said.

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Winechain [a NFT platform] raises €6 million for expansion

Winechain, an NFT platform specializing in fine wine sales, has raised €6 million of backing from some of the best-known names in fine wine, ahead of its launch later this year.

The start-up, which was founded by the former head of Amazon Europe, Xavier Garambois, Guillaume Jourdan, CEO of VitaBella and Nicolas Mendiharat, CEO of the San Francisco Palate Club, launched at the end of May 2022, after securing over $1 million in backing from wine estates and wine lovers.

It has now upped its investment to $6 million and secured backing by the Rouzaud family of Champagne Roederer and Château Pichon-Comtesse, along with the Reybier family of St Emilion’s Château Cos d’Estournel, and a venture capital fund, Fabric Ventures, with the aim to accelerate its technological development.

The platform aims to be a “new generation” marketplace of wine NFTS, which is called wiNeFTs, which uses blockchain technology and Web3 (a new iteration of the worldwide web which incorporates blockchain technology and token-based economics) to enable an “interactive” direct-to-consumer sales channel that is backed by global logistics, the company previously said. It has already signed up global logistics provider CMA CGM Group, which has taken a minority shareholding in Winechain along with its founder, CEO Rodolphe Saadé.

Winemakers that are part of the platform can choose which wines they wish to sell on Winechain, and access to the platform’s global community of buyers, meaning they can interact with their community of buyers directly.

Frédéric Rouzaud CEO of Champagne Louis Roederer said the investment was an expression of the desire to “constantly innovate and encourage innovation”.

“In the vineyard, in the cellar, and in every aspect of our activity, we are in perpetual motion, attentive to the times and practices that are in constant evolution. For us, Winechain is a means of pursuing this approach and of going even further in terms of proximity and dialogue with wine enthusiasts,” he said.

Max Mersch of FABRIC Ventures explained that the increased traceability, transparency and accessibility would open up the wine world to a new generation of wine enthusiasts.

“The wine enthusiast market is expanding at a pace that is rapidly outgrowing supply, and yet wineries are still looking to find ways to connect directly with their end consumers instead of the multiple logistics middlemen currently in place,” he said. “By creating NFTs for each case of wine straight at the source, wineries will have a transparent data-driven view of their customers, will be able to store the wines in perfect conditions while the wine is being traded and will be able to benefit from royalty fees on the entire secondary market.”

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The “Top 10″ Wine Consuming Countries

The International Organise of Vine and Wine (OIV) published the “State of the World Wine and Vine Sector 2021” report April 2022 which estimates wine consumption per country, which also includes which countries consume the most wine per annum.

Despite the Western European reputation for a glass of wine with lunch and a glass of wine with dinner, it appears that the US (with its population of approximately 258 million adults) consumes the most wine per annum.

The estimated 2021 total consumption of 236 million hectolitres marks a 0.7% increase on the 2020 level, disrupting a trend of otherwise continuous decline from 2018 to 2020. This spike can be partially attributed to the reopening of the on-trade.

Note: this data is not per capita but estimates overall consumption for each country.

Here is a list of the top 10 counties that consume the most wine each year.

1) USA – 33.1 mhl

33.1 mhl equates to about 4.4 billion standard 75 cl bottles. Also note that USA still has dry municipalities and where alcohol cannot legally be purchased by anyone under the age of 21. The OIV data indicates that wine consumption has risen by around 5% since 2016, with older, affluent consumers driving the market.

2) France – 25.2 mhl

Consumption has slightly decreased in France in recent years, falling from an estimated 28.3 mhl in 2016, though this figure is actually 2% above the pre-pandemic volume. There are still those who enjoy their two glasses a day, including President Emmanuel Macron, but attitudes have shifted to favour less frequent consumption. Health consciousness may be part of it, though attempts to place the Nutri-Score system on bottles and label wines as “unhealthy” were met with outrage from the industry and consumers.

3) Italy – 24.2 mhl

Just falling short of France, Italian wine consumption does not meet the level of its wine production, with the country making almost twice as much wine as it drinks. This amount is actually Italy’s highest level since 2008, though sales of all alcohol in Italy declined by -8.5% during the pandemic. The notable rise also comes in spite of a report suggesting that while more Italians are drinking wine, consumption is less frequent.

4) Germany – 19.8 mhl

Sparkling wine is especially popular among German consumers. Prosecco and Cava juggernaut Henkell Freixenet’s recent results show that Germany, Austria and Switzerland remains the company’s strongest region. Champagne is also fizzing ahead – with the 15 million bottles sold in Germany in 2021 representing a phenomenal 28% increase on the 2019 level, a symptom of post-pandemic celebrations.

5) UK – 13.4 mhl

A survey of Brits’ favorite wine brands shows that there is a strong preference for sweet, less expensive wines or expensive Champagne. As for British bottles, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee served as an occasion for many to crack open fizz from England’s burgeoning sparkling sector – as consumption has tripled since the Diamond Jubilee. Last year’s result was approximately 3.4% above the five-year average and shows that, despite Brexit, the UK remains a strong market.

6) China – 10.5 mhl

Wine consumption did drop by -17.4% between 2019 and 2020, largely as a result of the country’s rigid lockdowns, and by a further -15.4% in 2021. China was also a major market for Australian wine, but the tariff dispute which began in March 2021 shows no sign of cooling down.

7) Russia – 10.5 mhl

Russia has a reasonably-sized wine industry, producing an average of 4.5-5 mhl of wine per annum, and there is a strong domestic market for it. Indeed, as the country has become increasingly isolationist, Putin’s antagonism toward the European wine industry has grown, such as was the case with his declaration that only Russian sparkling could be labeled as ‘Champagne’. Despite this, there is still demand for foreign wine, and it will be interesting to see how this consumption figure changes, in light of the trade sanctions imposed as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

8) Spain – 10.5 mhl

Spain is a major global producer, on a similar level to France. However, despite wine being a fixture of meals in the country, alcohol consumption plummeted by -16% in 2020 as the majority of drinking takes place in restaurants and bars, which were shut during lockdowns, the reopening of those venues resulted in a 9.9% boost on the 2020 volume, a result that reflects pre-pandemic figures.

9) Argentina – 8.4 mhl

Though producers such as Bemberg have propelled the country’s fine wines into international markets, and Mendozan Malbec is now a staple of supermarket shelves across the world, for a long time most Argentinian wine never left Argentina. But domestic consumption dipped by -11.1% between 2020 and 2021, and the overall trend since the start of this century has been downwards. This is likely due to economic troubles and currency devaluation diminishing consumer purchasing power.

10) Australia – 5.9 mhl

Wine Australia launches AUS$2.2 million biodiversity program

There are currently 20 million drinkers over the legal age. Australia’s wealth of wines has found a domestic audience among millennial drinkers. In fact, between 2018 and 2021, the percentage of regular wine drinkers over the age of 55 fell by -7%, whereas for 25 – 44-year-olds it went up by a third, the reverse of the demographic shift that has been seen in the US. Overall, Australian wine consumption last year was 7.9% above the five-year average, reaching the highest consumption level recorded.

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SYMPOSIUM ‘ACT FOR CHANGE’ ENDS ON A COLLABORATIVE NOTE

Organized by Vinexposium June 20 and 21, 2022 at the Cité du Vin, the Symposium ‘Act for Change’ gathered over 35 international experts representing 17 nationalities for a series of discussions focusing on the future of wines and spirits between now and 2030.

The event, which was held as part of Bordeaux Wine Week, ended on an optimistic note after addressing the main issues affecting the wine and spirits industry. These include changing consumer patterns, the consequences of climate change and their impact on the production and distribution of wine and spirits. Each talk addressed these issues and provided practical insight, both for industry members attending and those who joined the livestream on Vinexposium Connect, the group’s digital portal. Nine major themes were explored by industry players who view the future with pragmatism, ambition, and confidence in a world of experimentation and solutions to cope with the many challenges to come. At the close of the symposium, speakers agreed that the future of the wine industry would be collaborative, innovative and technological, where ethical practices, transparency, knowledge sharing and engagement between the large companies and winegrowers would be promoted.

Here are some observations on the panel discussions and talks:

If fine wines are to have a future, it will be close to nature

Questioned about the future of fine wines, Oliver Bernard shared his views about the changes awaiting the industry. Expressing a mix of enthusiasm and realism, the director of Domaine de Chevalier stressed the importance of reacting immediately to environmental issues, whilst reiterating his confidence in consumers and future generations in celebrating fine wines. Solutions he mentioned included the emergence of new grape varieties for appellation wines, support for estates to switch over to organic and biodynamic winegrowing and adapting vineyard management techniques.

New consumer habits and new sensory profiles

Questioned about flavour and aroma profiles in 2030, Cathy Van Zyl MW, deputy editor of Platter’s South African wine guide, stated that the South African market was in the process of transitioning to lighter wines. Whisky consultant Colin Hampden-White responded by sharing insight into changing spirits styles, which are increasingly flavourful in response to consumer expectations. Pierre Mansour, wine purchasing director for The Wine Society, stressed that 65% of consumers prioritise climate issues in their choice of wines. Many consumers are looking primarily for ‘honest wines’, showing authenticity, viewed as pure site-expressiveness. Honest wines now seem to be establishing themselves as an emerging and growing trend among consumers seeking added value. They are also asking for variety of choice, catering to their own personal consumption habits, and are turning increasingly towards wines that are drier, more unrefined in style, yet remain savoury, and also towards those that pin their environmental credentials to the mast. For spirits, the future is all about creativity, diversity, assertive tastes, and local traceability. New consumers want to be surprised, they are looking for originality and unexpected styles, which can stem either from new distillation techniques or from creative recipes with unfamiliar ingredients. Stéphanie Marchand-Marion, a lecturer at Bordeaux University studies the latest changes in flavour trends, from the consumer perspective and in terms of climate change. She concluded that wines could survive tomorrow’s climate challenges, provided a balance in their composition was found. 

Tomorrow’s packaging – where changing consumer patterns, innovation and lower CO2 emissions converge

The challenge for the packaging of the future will be to respond to the divergence between the unquestionable need to reduce the carbon footprint stemming from the manufacturing process and consumer perception of sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging. In the consumer psyche, glass remains a sustainable vessel, whereas the reality is more complex. The results of steps taken to recycle bottles are not significant, providing evidence of the discrepancy between interest shown for ecological issues and a real desire by consumers to change their habits. Lulie Halstaed, Director of Wine Intelligence – IWSR, has noticed this particularly in Australia, where 67% of wine and spirits buyers believe in climate change, but only 21% claim to act responsibly. Rob Malin, the founder of When in Rome, launched the first wine sold in a paper bottle, which emits 6 times less CO2 than a glass bottle. As a reminder, the production of glass accounts for nearly 40% of the industry’s CO2 emissions.

Tomorrow’s packaging will have two roles to play: research work and the move towards more sustainable packaging will need to continue, and bottles must be used as a tool for educating consumers of wine and spirits, which are among the most highly packaged products around.

Digitalization of Wine and Spirits

Cyril Grira, Retail & Omnichannel director at Google France, has seen an acceleration in searches for wines and spirits on the Google search engine, as with ‘organic wines’ that have increased three-fold. He also points to the fact that most consumer searches focus on grape varieties, appellations, and local productions. Yet, lack of consumer knowledge on the topic (80% of searches are generic) and of visibility for small producers are barriers to industry performance. The wine industry would benefit from taking a leaf out of the fashion and beauty industries’ book, where multiple formats are used to innovate and tell stories. At the same time, the online sales outlet must connect better with the physical sales outlet. As regards the metaverse, experts expressed reservations, stressing that wine and spirits are primarily part of real-life experiences.

Winegrowing and climate change: opportunities in the face of adversity
As climate change causes upheavals, techniques and typicities across the wine regions are evolving. During the symposium, it was unanimously agreed that coping with climate change and human resilience in supporting winegrowing would be pivotal to tackling the issue. Varietal diversification, planting grape varieties in suitable locations, rootstock and balanced management were all cited as resources. Viewing the future with optimism and ambition, participants called on the industry to take leadership of climate issues and underscored the significance of a collaborative approach – one of the biggest challenges is to think collectively, as a community, so that existing solutions can be shared more effectively.

Geopolitics, wines and spirits – lessons to be learnt from crises

The war in Ukraine undermines control of global capitalism, with consequences including the risk of entering a recession and the supremacy of the dollar in international trade. A new global geo-economy is in the making. Faced with this changing situation, the ability of wine and spirits businesses to adapt must enable them to grasp new export opportunities, in regions such as Africa for instance, and strengthen their brands and their image. Compliance with local rules and protection of brands and appellations are also drivers of this success. Similarly, the impact of climate change affects the geopolitics of wine and spirits, both in the positions taken by leaders and the viability of a supply chain designed to respond to the ‘just-in-time’ logistics expected by younger generations. As Christophe Navarre, chairman of the board of Vinexposium pointed out, “The impact of climate change on winegrowing will be huge. This is a priority mission for businesses, the choice is no longer ours”.

Agro-ecology and innovation: essential bedfellows

Faced with climate challenges and the need to remain competitive in a constantly changing marketplace, agro-ecology innovations are the future. They already come in a variety of forms, from the open access ‘calculator’ for measuring carbon footprint, use of artificial intelligence for managing farms and optimising aspects such as yields – including solutions provided by Israeli company Trellis – to the introduction of regenerative techniques. Although the latter concept covers a whole galaxy of realities, relevant regulations are rapidly progressing and influencing – sometimes even restricting – winegrowing practices. From high-tech solutions to a return to basics, agro-ecology is reinventing itself at the instigation of stakeholders who aim to make it accessible to the broadest audience.

How e-commerce has upended the relationship with the consumer

Lockdown expedited online buying and revolutionised sales. Fabrice Bernard, president of Millesima, commented on how the internet piqued consumer interest about wines that they usually did not drink. E-commerce has changed buying habits, but without driving customers away from shops. This development is compelling e-commerce players to rethink the way they work by creating new technology tools such as those provided by Preferabli, which uses digital technology to help consumers make choices. “We will witness consolidation in the marketplace, but the biggest change over the next ten years will be the increasing number of businesses focusing on the customer rather than on the product. Shops are not the only place where customers can have physical interactions. Digital technology will allow the magic surrounding the product’s story to be developed faster and technology can help tell these stories”, claimed Pam Dillon, co-founder and CEO of Preferabli. The future of e-commerce seems to mesh with a competitive marketplace where customer service will make all the difference.

The future of wine and spirits in 2030 – wrapping up 

The near future will require adjustments to cope with current changes, yet also continued pragmatism, concluded Christophe Navarre, chairman of the board of Vinexposium, who stressed the positive pressure from young people for immediate action in favour of the climate. “Rolling out large-scale, practical actions involves reconciling political agendas, corporate activities, and consumer patterns. This is a complex process. For example, in supermarkets, producers who take positive action are not promoted enough. There is no doubt that this is now one of our missions”, he also pointed out in his concluding remarks at the Symposium ‘Act for Change’.

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