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This monthly summary highlights the most interesting product launches in June, with a focus on the direction the alcoholic drinks industry is taking in terms of innovative developments.

French revolution: Cola flavoured wine

One of the most infamous oxymorons plaguing the wine industry is the apparent gap between perceptions, research and actual purchasing patterns, especially when it comes down to the dry to sweet flavour spectrum.

The anomaly, still surprisingly overlooked by the majority of wine producers, is that while consumers participating in surveys overwhelmingly suggest that they prefer drier styles, they tend to opt for sweeter variants when actually visiting the wine aisle. Even more troubling, consumer perceptions of what constitutes ‘dry’ vary from country to country and in most cases directly oppose industry definitions or stereotypes.

In other words, the wine industry’s navel gazing and snobbery are forcing its own consumer base to consciously or unconsciously provide falsified or pretentious insights to eager marketers in a vicious circle of inertia inducing self-delusion. Drier styles, obscure grape varieties and incomprehensible labels from unpronounceable chateaus are supposed to be the epitome of sophistication and consumers are happy to oblige, agreeably stating exactly what they are expected to say whenever asked for their opinion, in a pointless feedback loop.

And then they go buy something completely different. And sweeter. With a simpler, streamlined label. For cheap.

The ‘moscato madness’ currently sweeping the US alongside  the on-going fascination with sweeter red blends are the most recent signs of the industry’s belated and still gradual realisation. Targeting a generation of millennials that has been raised on sugary drinks, snacks and fast food would inevitably skew palates towards the sweeter side. It should be rather obvious. And now, even the notoriously conservative French seem to get it.

Queue moans of horror and indignation from the industry. And skyrocketing sales in the real world.

Rouge Sucette from the Haussmann Famille

Haussmann Famille, part of French wine house Chateaux En Bordeaux, has launched what it claims is the world’s first cola-flavoured wine – Rouge Sucette. The 9% abv product, which is 75% grapes and 25% water/aromas, is being distributed to hypermarkets throughout France although more markets are also in the pipeline. The drink, which translated into English means ‘red lollipop’, is aimed at younger drinkers and women. Haussmann Famille also launched a passion fruit-flavoured rose and white wine two months ago.

‘Cantails’ ? Beer embraces the cocktail resurgence in a can

If there ever was any doubt about the importance, relevance and momentum of the cocktail trend, it should have by now been diluted, shaken and served to all the cynics in the tall glass of intoxicating performances enjoyed by the spirits categories embracing it. Bourbon’s ascent owes as much to old-fashioned cocktails as rum to cuba libre or cachaça to caipirinhas. Beyond the accessibility and emotional response elicited by such – now ubiquitous- offerings, its is the sense of ritual and mystique they bestow to their respective categories, a characteristic painfully lacking in the largely complacent beer category, that is essential.

Not any more. Beyond recent efforts to craft imaginative beer-based concoctions targeting consumption on the go while flaunting their affordability credentials and casual positioning, the category is now dipping a toe in the on-trade. While it is still early days and this is an exploratory venture rather than a full scale initiative, can served beer-based cocktails with a premium positioning might indeed play a key role in changing the category’s drinking occasions and ultimately, future.

MillerCoors Cocktails / Red Robin

Coors Light and Blue Moon Can-Crafted Cocktails are being served in a reusable beer can and “are a unique combination of beer and liquor”, according to Red Robin. The Coors Light serving is mixed with ginger liqueur, lemonade and fresh lemon, while Blue Moon comes with vodka, orange juice and fresh lime juice.

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