Minimum pricing could give the emerging market for lower-abv varietal wines a considerable boost, say suppliers.

The lower-abv wine market grew 60% yearon- year to £37m [Nielsen 52w/e 6 January 2012] and – with the possibility of a minimum price for alcohol – the next generation of lower-abv wines have been enthusiastically received by supermarket buyers, claimed Brand Phoenix.

Brand Phoenix is rolling out its First Cape Discovery Light 5.5% abv varietal wines – sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and white zinfandel (rsp: £3.49/50cl and £5.99/75cl) – to Tesco and Morrisons from the end of this month.

“Everyone was concerned lower-abv wines would be a ash in the pan but now they’re excited,” said Guy Smith, who developed the range.

“The aroma of the sauvignon blanc is not bad but is let down by the sweetish taste. It tastes more like juice, but perfectly pleasant, for someone who wanted to be sociable but didn’t want to get drunk. The pink drink is closer to the real thing – faintly rhubarby, with a hint of peach and the same sweetish taste as the white – but then it does have a higher proportion of wine. These used to be called ‘wine coolers’. I wonder what the ‘0.0% Alc Mixer’ is.

Charles Metcalfe is co-chair man of the International Wine Challenge 

Under the government’s proposed 40p-perunit minimum alcohol pricing, the lowest price a 75cl bottle of 13% abv sauvignon blanc could sell for is £3.90 – compared with £1.65 for a 5.5% abv wine.

And while industry observers believe it is unlikely retailers would drop that low, they said the reduced duty burden on lower-abv wines meant stores could a ord to be more exible with pricing than on higherstrength wines.

Smith said it would be di cult for retailers to go as low as £1.65 without making a loss – and believed £3.99 was a more likely promotional price for lower-abv wines – or possibly 3-for-£10.