Revolution in a glass? The rise of alcohol-free drinks in wine-loving France

With European summer fast approaching, many people will no doubt unwind with a refreshing glass of chilled wine. But in France, not everyone gets dizzy. Alcohol-free wine, beer and spirits is a rapidly growing market. It’s a surprising trend for a country known for its wine-growing tradition. France 24’s coverage of a Paris wine cellar was different.

in the north of paris 19th district (district), The emerging district of the French capital, le panquiboit (“Drinking Peacock”) is the first brick-and-mortar boutique Opening of a company specializing in non-alcoholic beverages in France. The store is the brainchild of Augustin Laborde, a 35-year-old with a legal background who quit drinking shortly before France’s 2020 Covid-19 lockdown and saw an opportunity after it. Seeing many of his friends cutting back too. he realized Difficulty finding non-alcoholic beverages in bars, restaurants or supermarkets. “I don’t really like online shopping because I like to go to the store, read the labels, compare, ask problem,” he explained. “That’s when I realized that there wasn’t a store really dedicated to the world [of non-alcoholic drinks]. But I can see there is a need, or whatever, my friends are talking about it. “

Lepin Opening April 2022. The shop, run by Laborde and manager Maud Catté, also 35, offers a total of 460 different options: from non-alcoholic wine and beer, to Fake Gin, a healthy low-sugar alternative such as the fermented tea called kombucha.

Augustin Laborde and Maud Catté of Le Paon Qui Boit. © Caroline Clarkson

“We have absolutely nothing against drinking,” he said. Laborde added Catay Still drinks (she describes herself as a “flexible drinker”). “It’s just that we wish there was another possibility.” He insists on the inclusivity factor: “Whether you’re pregnant, Muslim, unwell or whatever, everyone ends up being included in these drinks, which is not the case with alcohol.”

but what about the french good life A mindset to enjoy the finer things in life, like a nice glass of wine? “We are still good day, even without alcohol,” Laborde said. “Non-alcoholic doesn’t mean a sad or bland drink.We enjoy life, just a small change from drinking to drinking alcohol free“.

Millennials and pensioners, but few students

Labord observed that most of the store’s customers were in 30 seconds, Many of them are members of the millennial generation. They “no doubt experimented with alcohol, including excessive drinking, and came to realize they couldn’t continue at the same pace”. He noted that the boutique also attracted a “quite a few pensioners who can no longer drink as much as they used to”.Despite store offering student discounts, he admits Lepin hasn’t attracted that many people yet 20s as it wishes, with For students on a tight budget, affordability can be an issue.

Although Paris is quieter during the summer holidays, on a recent Wednesday afternoon Lepin attracted a A steady stream of customers. The friendly duo of Laborde and Carter are on hand to give us advice. Tebow, They bought a drink made from fermented bread that tasted like Belgian Gueuze beer, He explained that he had given up drinking a month earlier for health reasons. Julie (pseudonym), 42, does not drink because of breastfeeding, purchase Afterwards a bottle of non-alcoholic white wine sampling a cup. As for Hélène, 36, with her basket in hand, she said She was there to stock up on diet drinks.

Hélène, 36, buys a diet drink at Le Paon Qui Boit.
Hélène, 36, buys a diet drink at Le Paon Qui Boit. © Caroline Clarkson

wine, non-alcoholic

There are two main methods of making alcohol-free wine, Laborde explained. The first uses must, usually oaked. second, more widely used techniques, Called vacuum distillation, it involves making wine the traditional way and then removing the alcohol: the wine is heated and the ethanol evaporates.

all Lepinof non-alcoholic wines are made from French grapes. The vast majority of bottles do not have corks. Interestingly, the nutritional information is listed on the back of the bottle, unlike traditional wines, though Laborde noted that this will change by the end of the year.

This non-alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier blend is sold at Le Paon Qui Boit for less than €10.
This non-alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier blend is sold at Le Paon Qui Boit for less than €10. © Caroline Clarkson

The French have always been known for their high standards when it comes to food and drink. Will these non-alcoholic drinks pass the taste test?

Laborde made it clear that with non-alcoholic wines, “one cannot expect the same things as they would in a traditional bottle”. “There’s not a long aftertaste (aftertaste). You really need to keep an open mind; it’s a new drink,” he explained. That said, FRANCE 24 drank the same glass of non-alcoholic white wine that Julie bought without difficulty.this Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier blends It is pleasant to drink with a sweet fruity taste.Replicating the taste of a full-bodied red wine is a bigger challenge, he says katai, Explain that most non-alcoholic red wines are lighter varieties.

For spirits, this doesn’t seem to be an issue. FRANCE 24 able to taste several non-alcoholic blends That Rich flavors, including sugar-free anise drink That tastes like the real thing anisettea popular aperitif in the south of France.

Le Paon Qui Boit chooses products with the least amount of sugar possible. This alcohol-free fennel drink contains no sugar or sweeteners.
Le Paon Qui Boit chooses products with the least amount of sugar possible. This alcohol-free fennel drink contains no sugar or sweeteners. © Caroline Clarkson

Fewer Calories, No Hangovers

According to the 2021 survey, about 41% of French people said they want to adopt a healthy lifestyle. “Non-alcoholic beverages have one third of this “Drinkers eat fewer calories,” Labord notes. Plus, “you avoid hangovers.” It’s really about being kind to yourself, being kind to yourself, and discovering new things. ’ For Laborde, these advantages explain why most of the boutique’s clientele are “flexible drinkers,” such as Catay: People who still drink but have reduced their alcohol intake.

Non-alcoholic beverages are undoubtedly booming. According to data from IWSR Beverage Market Analysis, Global Alcoholic Beverages Market Data Specialistthis No Alcohol or Low Alcohol Category Volumes in the 10 major markets are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% between 2022 and 2026.Estimated sales in France go see one With a compound annual growth rate of 9% over the same period, the French non-alcoholic beer market is expected to for That’s an impressive 14% CAGR.

Le Paon Qui Boit offers a selection of bottled beers with only trace alcohol.
Le Paon Qui Boit offers a selection of bottled beers with only trace alcohol. © Caroline Clarkson

“It’s not just a fad, it’s a real trend”

Laborde does believe that the non-alcoholic drinks market in France is here to stay, although it lags behind neighboring countries such as Germany and France. U.K.. “For us, it’s not just a fad, it’s a real trend,” he insisted. “Five years from now, there’s no question you’ll be drinking non-alcoholic beer on tap in pubs,” he believes. While acknowledging that French restaurants have been slow to embrace the trend (so far only high-end restaurants have shown interest), he expects that to change.

As for supermarkets in France, there are only a handful of non-alcoholic wines available for sale at the moment, and they can be difficult to find. But non-alcoholic beer is unmissable on store shelves this summer, with big names like Heineken and Kronenbourg getting in on the action.after success Lepin, Several similar boutiques have sprung up in Paris.

Is the no-alcohol trend a miniature French revolution? For Laborde, “it’s clearly an evolution.”At the same time, the team is Lepin Hope to open a second boutique before the end of this year.

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