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Novel red wine has cola flavour

Flavoured wine market takes off at Vinexpo – with sales set to hit 30 million bottles this year

WITH grapefruit rosés and passion fruit whites already on the market, a French wine dealer is next month launching a cola-flavoured red wine.

Shown at the giant Vinexpo international wine trade show in Bordeaux, the Rouge Sucette from Haussmann Famille is part of a new wine-based product range that is estimated to mean a market of 30 million bottles of flavoured wine sold in France this year, double the figure seen in 2012

Flavoured wines have made headlines recently due to their rising popularity and the boldness of its producers, who have no qualms about breaking with tradition - and who, for many oenophiles, are committing nothing less than heresy.

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

The big star at the moment is grapefruit rosé; which sees rosé wine combined with water, sugar and grapefruit flavouring.

Grapefruit rosés make up 75% of sales in the sector. Even the jury of the Concours Agricole de Paris, the prestigious competition for agricultural products, showed its approval, awarding a silver medal to the grapefruit rosé produced by Maison Bigallet.

Lollipop wine

In this context, it's no surprise that a number of wine makers and traders presented their own flavoured wines at Vinexpo.

Haussmann Famille, a dealer working with growers in the Bordeaux region, waited for this key event, held in France every two years, 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 flavoured wines are limited only by the imagination of producers, who work hand in hand with flavour laboratories. Haussmann Famille's first strides in the sector included Rosé Sucette Fruits de la Passion, a rosé wine with passion fruit flavouring. A white version of the passion fruit Sucette soon followed, as rosé wines are not the only ones that lend themselves to flavouring.

"Technically, all colours are likely to be associated with a flavour. One can come up with as many flavours as there are different yogurts," says 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? Olivier Poels says 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 flavoured 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 colourful packaging makes all the difference.

"Flavoured 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," says Haussmann’s Pauline Lacombe.

This is one factor that keeps the price of flavoured 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.

Asked whether offering such a product could seriously tarnish its image, the Bordeaux-based company was clear: "This product is entirely different from what we offer in parallel. And we are proud of the result".

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 €2.95 per bottle.

© AFP/Connexion

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