Fruit wine: Botanicals play a new role in wine drinks
The word “botanical” neatly conjures up images of plant and herb extracts, all expertly blended to create a product with natural and authentic flavours. It’s a popular word nowadays, having shot to stardom after being adopted by various beverage categories including tea, soft drinks, juices and, of course, gin.
It’s no surprise therefore to see that botanicals have now found their way into the fruit and flavoured wine sector, but what is perhaps more unexpected is that this recent development in the category is also opening up new occasions by offering different ways to drink flavoured wines.
Broadland Wineries is one producer that has recently launched a botanicals range under the Three Mills brand, with the aim of competing with gin and cocktail-style mixers.
To create Thee Mills Botanicals (which are available in 1.5-litre pouches) two British wines are infused with botanical flavours: Rose, Strawberry & Elderflower; and Juniper, Cucumber & Lime.
Liz Cobbold, Broadland’s marketing director, says: “Through our consumer insight team, we constantly scour trends to identify opportunities to bring new consumers into the wine market. Adding botanicals to wine and offering it to consumers to drink as a standalone, as a spritzer or with gin provides many different styles of drink which will appeal to a broader range of consumers.
“The emergence of botanicals taps into the wider global trend for more natural, plant-derived ingredients in drinks. The use of botanicals in carbonated soft drinks, for example, has been emerging across Europe for some time.”
Others have also been looking at how best to incorporate the consumer love for botanicals into the fruit wine segment.
Jessica Smith, marketing assistant at Continental Wine & Food, says it also tapped into this consumer interest by creating its own botanical blends of The Straw Hat as a spin-off from its core British wine range.
She says: “Inspired by plants of the finest potting shed, the Botanical Collection provides deliciously refreshing infusions and an exciting new fruity extension from our core range.”
It comprises two varieties: White with Cool Cucumber, Zesty Lime & a Hint of Ginger; and Rosé with Juicy Strawberry, Sweet Orange Blossom & Rhubarb.
“Both can be enjoyed chilled or with a measure of gin and topped up with soda to create the perfect Botanical Fizz cocktail.”
NPD and new serves in this category – such as spritz-style drinks – have tapped into the growing interest in lower-alcohol drinks.
Hannah Kennedy, NPD manager at Kingsland Drinks, says: “Our research has shown that consumers do want to moderate, whether that is through zero alcohol, lower alcohol or just consuming less of a traditional wine, and this trend isn’t likely to decline anytime soon. The focus on rosé is also likely to continue, with consumers consistently seeking products to provide refreshment through the summer.
“In response to this, we have expanded our lower-alcohol offering and we have recently launched a new variant within the Garden Party range, Strawberries & Cream, in Morrisons, with a lower abv of 5.5%.”
Kennedy said the company has also seen “significant growth” for Willow & Stone, its British wine stocked in the Co-op, which has a slightly lower abv than other wines at 10%. The rosé has been a particularly strong seller, she says.
Off-Piste Wines, which has Makers & Co Berry Crush listed in Morrisons and, more recently, The Co-op, also points to the lower-alcohol trend.
Rachel Osborne, marketing manager, says: “We have seen a growing interest in lower- alcohol and flavoured styles when we have sampled at events.
The interest comes predominantly from females who perhaps do not necessarily drink full-strength wine or other alcoholic drinks – more because they don’t like the taste than for any perceived health benefits.”
Sales in the overall fruit-infused wine category are being driven by 18 to 35-year-old female consumers, and wine drinkers who are new to the market.
The flavoured wine category grew 7% in volume to £110 million last year (Nielsen), a growth rate which is three times faster than still wine.
Smith at CWF says: “The extensive, plush range of many white and rosé wines are simply too dry for some consumers, meaning the fruit wine demographic are those who maybe like the idea of wine but can find the taste too intense and overpowering.
The array of wines in stores can be overwhelming and consumers become hesitant about committing to a purchase in case they don’t enjoy the taste, but fruit wine eases new audiences into this category and opens them up to wanting to experiment more and try new variants as their taste preferences develop over time.”
Meanwhile, Broadland is hoping its Three Mills Botanicals range will replicate the success last year of Three Mills Fruit Fusions, which the company said saw 43% volume growth during 2018.
Broadland’s Cobbold says: “This category has significant potential for growth by bringing in new consumers to wine drinking, both through product development, such as botanicals, and delivering the product in a variety of different formats – 75cl and single serve bottle, pouches, bag-in-box and cans.
“As a whole, the wine market is seeing a reduced volume in the entry-level category and losing younger consumers, so innovation is key and the recent introduction of botanicals into this category will have the effect of bringing in younger consumers.
“Our own research has shown us that younger consumers are looking for a number of things: naturalness, which means the colour of the product and the flavours should be natural; social currency is key, so packaging should
be bold and colourful and different; and the product should be Instagrammable, so very visual – cocktails, long drinks, drinks that look different.”