Cola-flavored red: the latest taste in flavoured wines

24 June 2013 - 11:07 By AFP Relaxnews
Image: ©Haussmann Famille

Grapefruit rosés, chestnut whites, and now...cola reds. At Vinexpo, the international wine trade show that wrapped up Thursday in Bordeaux, France, French wine dealer Haussmann Famille unveiled an exclusive new product: red wine with a cola flavor.

The flavored wine sector has made headlines recently due to its rising popularity and the boldness of its producers, who have no qualms about breaking with tradition...

To be served chilled, on balmy summer days, at a barbecue, or when cocktail hour rolls around... Two years ago, the wine world experienced a small revolution which -- for many oenophiles -- amounts to nothing less than heresy: the invention of flavored wine.

While French producers still balk at the unorthodox mixes practiced by some of their foreign counterparts -- who mix red and white wine and dare to call the result rosé -- a few of their countrymen have concocted phenomenally successful products by employing similar methods, creating an entirely new product range.

According to the latest estimates, 30 million bottles of flavored wine will be sold in France over the course of 2013, double the figure seen in 2012.

Rosé, with a grapefruit twist

This citrusy beverage is the star of the new market in France for flavored wine-based beverages: rosé wine is combined with water, sugar and grapefruit flavoring. Today, grapefruit rosés account for 75% of sales in the sector. Even the jury of the Concours Agricole de Paris, a prestigious French competition for agricultural products, showed its approval, awarding a silver medal to the grapefruit rosé produced by Maison Bigallet. In this context, it's no surprise that a number of wine makers and traders presented their own flavored wines at Vinexpo this week.

A wine dealer working with growers in the Bordeaux region, Haussmann Famille waited for this key event, held in France every two years (and in alternate years in Hong Kong), to set the wine world abuzz with its "rouge cola": red wine accented by the taste of the famous soft drink. This new product completes the range launched by the company last April under the name of "Sucette" (French for "Lollipop").

"The result is surprising," affirms Pauline Lacombe, Haussmann Famille's marketing director. She adds that the beverage "should be served ice-cold," and that "the balance between the bitterness of the wine and the sweetness of the cola is perfect."

The possibilities in the realm of flavored wines are limited only by the imagination of producers, who work hand in hand with flavor laboratories. Haussmann Famille's first strides in the sector included Rosé Sucette Fruits de la Passion, a rosé wine with passion fruit flavoring. A white version of the passion fruit Sucette soon followed, as rosé wines are not the only ones that lend themselves to flavoring.

"Technically, all colors are likely to be associated with a flavor. One can come up with as many flavors as there are different yogurts," remarks Olivier Poels, co-author of the reference guide "Les meilleurs vins de France."

Winning over new wine consumers

Is grapefruit rosé the first chapter in a long-term success story? According to Olivier Poels, it is still too early to tell. The French have shown their discernment in recent years by drinking less wine but selecting better quality products. But they have also shown openness to wines produced by somewhat unorthodox methods. In fact, fans of flavored wines have little to nothing in common with the usual wine enthusiasts.

Producers of this new breed of wine-based beverages are clearly targeting women and young adults, and a focus on refined and colorful packaging makes all the difference.

"Flavored wine gives newcomers an introduction to wine. For younger consumers, these beverages help to make the transition between soft drinks and more mature beverage choices. Our Rosé Sucette Fruits de la Passion, for example, has an alcohol content of just 9% by volume," explains Pauline Lacombe, of Haussmann Famille.

This is one factor that keeps the price of flavored wines at a reasonable level. Even Haussmann Famille, while insisting that its products are on the higher end of the market, places its price point at €2.95 per bottle in France.

Regarding whether offering this type of product could seriously tarnish its image, the Bordeaux-based company is clear: "this product is entirely different from what we offer in parallel. And we are proud of the result," affirms the marketing director. Brainstorming is already underway for the development of the next offering in the "Sucette" range...

*Rouge Sucette Cola will be available in early July in French grocery stores at the price of €2.95 per bottle.

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