Carling Chrome which tastes of lemon only hit the streets earlier this year. Like Animée, its Molson Coors stablemate, Chrome is intended to expand the beer market by appealing to women. Animée appears to have gone too far in this direction, as an avowed “beer-for-girls”, but Chrome “brewed for a lighter, less bitter taste at 4.8% abv” is apparently doing well.
They’re just a few of the grapefruit-flavoured rosés that have been taking the French market by storm this year, and quite possibly helping to reverse the Gallic trend away from traditional wine drinking. I’m not sure how well the “Fanny” brand would play in the UK or US but the style might easily find as ready an audience as the fruit ciders have in these markets.
And if the Anglo-Saxons don’t take to the bitter-sweet flavour of these rosés, they may prefer reds or whites that are flavoured with peach, mango, strawberry or blackcurrant. Like these examples that have recently been launched onto the UK market, under the banners of familiar brands such as Hardy’s, Banrock, Echo Falls and JP Chenet.
Of course, these can’t legally call themselves “wines”; in fact “wine cocktail” would be the correct description. But then even if no fruit flavour has been used, when a wine has had its alcohol physically reduced to 5.5% – the level at which UK excise duty plummets – it still loses the right to use that description. Reduced-strength efforts like First Cape Cafe Collection have to be labelled as “reduced alcohol wine based drink”. And they don’t taste as good as the ones that have had the benefit of added fruit flavour.
To declare an interest, I’ve done research for a 5.5% wine cocktail brand – not one of the ones mentioned in this post – and discovered for myself (and the client) just how agreeable ordinary, wine-drinking consumers found it. In fact, for the first of the three tests, we served it blind to people who mostly imagined that the pink cocktail was actually a Californian rosé wine.
No such mistake would presumably be made about the chocolate-flavoured wines that are taking the US market by storm.
All I know is that, whether purists like it or not, flavoured wines, ciders and beers are as much of a commercial reality as other recent inventions ranging from pineapple pizza and avocado sushi to e-books and latte. And for that reason alone, I find it interesting how much less discussion there is of them than of the “natural” wines which will never be more than a sideshow.