Constellation, Brown Brothers and Bottle Green all launched lower-alcohol wines at the Australia annual trade tasting this month.

Australian supplier Brown Brothers unveiled two low-alcohol offerings a Moscato Rosa (7% abv), which goes into Waitrose on 22 February (rsp: £6.49), and sparkling red wine Cienna Rosso (7.5%).

"There is now a big focus on responsible consumption of alcohol, and lower-alcohol wines have become very topical," said Gail Gilbert, European sales and marketing manager at Brown Brothers. "These wines fit a niche for people who like fruitier, summery drinks, and give retailers a lower-alcohol offer."

Constellation also said there was growing demand for lighter wines. This spring it is launching a low-abv Banrock Station Moscato into the on-trade, which could go into the off-trade depending on consumer reaction.

Meanwhile, Bottle Green has created a 5.5% Moscato under its Andrew Peace label and in May will launch Vetro which it claims is the first range to state the units of alcohol on the front of the bottle. Each of the three variants in the line-up contains three units and the range tied in with the government's Know Your Limits campaign, said Bottle Green MD Richard Hitchcock.

Removing alcohol from wine often added to the cost of production and was only justifiable if importers, producers and retailers were prepared to work together to make lower-alcohol products more mainstream, he added.

"Retailers are saying they genuinely want to move the average alcohol content of wine down, but the quality and flavour must work," said Hitchcock.

Growing demand for lower-alcohol drinks prompted Tesco to launch its new Light Choices range of low-calorie 8% abv wines last month.

"The need to cater to this trend in the face of chief medical adviser policies is apparent but it isn't clear yet how to make it a category of its own, or whether customers expect this," explained Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, senior product development manager for wine at Tesco.