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Wine, sparkling wine, spirits: trends demand ideas and the means to make them a reality—discover them at drinktec 2017

August 14, 2017

A variety of opportunities for classic producers and young start-ups

As the World's Leading Trade Fair for the Beverage and Liquid Food Industry, drinktec has always offered technologies for producers of wine, sparkling wine, and spirits. Thanks to the cooperation with SIMEI, it is now possible to address winegrowers and wine producers in a more targeted manner. For the first time, SIMEI@drinktec—the international exhibition for winery and bottling machinery—will take place as part of drinktec. It will be offering solutions exclusively for the wine industry in two halls (C2 and C3) across an exhibition area of 20,000 square meters. Over 200 exhibitors will be presenting all kinds of machine technology and equipment for wine production and wine processing, including packaging solutions.

Through the collaboration with SIMEI and its organizers, Unione Italiana Vini, drinktec's hall surface area is growing to over 150,000 square meters. SIMEI thus completes drinktec's offering with specific solutions exclusively for the wine industry. At SIMEI@drinktec, you will be able to find large wineries, who live mainly off exports, just as much as small winegrowers, who are more likely to produce for regional demand.

Although drinktec has already been offering technologies for the wine industry up to now, “this has been more about bottling and packaging technology on a large scale. Equipment that is designed for large volumes and can be used not exclusively but simply also for the wine industry,” explains Petra Westphal, the project group leader responsible for drinktec 2017. “SIMEI is the perfect extension to our current offer. We therefore have more than 500 exhibitors, whose offer is completely or at least partly geared to the wine industry."

But what are the key trends that are influencing the wine industry? Let us start by taking a look at the volume segment in Europe: here, the wine's origin plays a rather subordinate role for consumers, who put their full and complete trust in the brand. Global sourcing is thus gaining in significance in order to further reduce costs in this highly competitive market. This gives new opportunities to winegrowers who have not yet been brought to the attention of the general public, for example the East, if they can provide the desired quality and quantity of bulk wine.

Premium wine: authenticity and sustainability are in vogue
In the premium market, authenticity and sustainability are becoming increasingly important. The central brand messages include keywords such as “wine culture” and “tradition.” However, for the customer, sustainability and environmental protection go hand in hand—This applies, for example, to organic wine grape cultivation as well as to water or energy saving. So it is all the more beneficial for trade visitors that drinktec, as a “full-range supplier,” also showcases global, state-of-the-art offerings in these segments.

As authenticity is popular, consumers' first step in this direction could be native wines. Native can mean “indigenous” or “homegrown”—a native grape variety grows in the place where it originally existed. Examples include the Elbling on the Moselle or the Grüner Veltliner throughout Austria. This territorial uniqueness is a very promising USP, particularly for consumers who want to deliberately rule out the global Chardonnays or Cabernets.

A second step towards authenticity brings us to orange wines and natural wines. They are still a tiny niche, but it is these wines that are served in the hippest locations and most passionately discussed in social network forums. In most cases, bio-organically or bio-dynamically operating businesses are behind “natural” wines. The wines themselves are usually spontaneously fermented, i.e. without selected yeast. They are also not sulfurized and filtered, or only to a slight degree. As little technology as possible is the motto. As a result, the white wines have a gold or even an orange shimmer to them. In terms of taste, the wines are completely out of the ordinary. Due to the high levels of tannin and lees they are slightly bitter and have herbaceous undertones. Also, they have no or a very low amount of primary fruit aromas. This is the sign of real authenticity according to the natural scene movement.

Craft spirits are conquering the market
While craft beer has already taken the global market by storm, craft spirits are now following suit in all their diversity. According to the market researchers at Mintel, spirits have already increased their product launches worldwide by 265 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Christoph Witte, Head of Product Management B2C at Döhler GmbH, states that many start-ups are also participating in the current market trends: “Alcoholic cold brew coffee specialties, innovation around the drink of the moment gin, or even the fusion of various symbiotic beverage categories—these are just a few examples of inspirations for alcoholic beverages, which we will be presenting at drinktec.”

The study carried out by Mintel shows that it is mainly generation Y, born between 1982 and 2000, which is stimulating the demand for craft spirits and craft cocktails. Their brand loyalty is as small as their interest in entirely new countries of origin and experimental styles is great. Christoph Witte explains: “A true pioneering spirit has broken out in the alcohol industry: classic spirits, wine, and sparkling wine are getting more and more unusual tastes through botanical extracts, exotic fruits, tea, coffee, and even vegetables.” Even champagne is part of this trend: Veuve Clicquot, who recently introduced really sweet champagnes, Rich and Rich Rosé, is seeking to penetrate the world of cocktails. Recommended ingredients for mixing with this include cucumber, celery, paprika, ginger, pineapple, hibiscus blossoms, and grapefruit zest.

Millennials are interested in the story behind the brand
Meanwhile, what is particularly interesting to the generation of millennials when it comes to wine is the story behind the brand. The concept wines or signature wines of young winegrowers are therefore also the success story of recent years. Instead of focusing on the place of origin, grape variety, or how the wine has been produced in communications, they let pictures, labels, and names speak for themselves and tell a story. This fits perfectly into the social media age, in which the power of images is brought to our attention on a daily basis.

In general, social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, apps, and blogs are becoming increasingly important in marketing. Consumers look for information, tasting notes, recommendations, and ranking lists. Online trade is also growing. Compared to other industries, however, the traditional channels are still of central importance for wine. According to a British study, for instance, the millennials view wine as a social drink, which they prefer to consume in bars or restaurants. But even traditional trade has moved a long way down paths that lean on Internet search engines: In Holland, for example, merchants no longer arrange their wines according to the country of origin, but according to the taste and drinking occasion, making it easier for customers to find their perfect wine. Of course, this idea can also be taken up by producers: a wine that began as a cuvée that goes well with asparagus could turn into an accompaniment to salmon or a delight to savor on a summer's night. By the way, the international wine, sparkling wine and spirits industry can also find all the necessary tools such as labels or advertising materials at drinktec.

New markets due to aging society
There is also a second population group which will increasingly influence the wine market. In 2050, about 28 percent of the European population is set to be 65 and older. For comparison: this figure was 19 percent in 2015. This aging society in Europe is opening up new markets for packaging solutions. People are looking for smaller volumes and packaging that keeps the content fresh for longer. The reason being that they like to drink wine regularly, but in smaller quantities.

These new packaging solutions can be made of glass, which still dominates the wine sector. However, the opportunities for alternative packaging such as disposable PET or bag-in-box are getting better and better.

SIMEI supporting program
In addition to the presentations of around 200 SIMEI@drinktec exhibitors, the transfer of knowledge between professionals is a second mainstay of SIMEI. The extensive program of the SIMEI Knowledge & Innovation Area with highly specialized seminars and workshops includes contributions from outstanding stakeholders from industry and science as well as representatives from renowned institutions from all over the world.

In the SIMEI Sensory Bar, visitors will be introduced to an exquisite selection of wines and other known products of Italian cuisine in tastings and educational sessions on sensory analysis. In addition, the head chef of RISAMORE will present tricks through an exciting live performance and introduce interesting new recipes.