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Ep 17 TNWG Wine Times: I Can't Abstain from Wine...BUT...



🤔 As the title suggests...wine and I have a long relationship. A long and beautiful relationship, having taken me to many places around the world (and not just metaphorically in a glass) but there has been one question bugging me of late.


And I would even go as far to say, I doubt that I could truly see a life without wine.


This will not change, however, the increase in 'No and Low' Alcoholic drinks and their rise in popularity should not be ignored. Gone are the days of a watery based substitute that resides at the supermarkets that passes as a non-alcoholic white wine but really tastes a cross between lemon water and some sugary additive on a still drink.


I am sure I am not the only one in confessing that maybe, with all the health risks at play, that it would be worth investigating further the depth of non-alcoholic drinks available to the consumer today. After all, the likes of non-alcoholic gins for example are impressive and by and large, very tasty and satisfying (aside maybe for the price tag!).


So what if, even as a 'wine expert', I could dictate a little more, the amount of units of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis? Yes I do have the likes of the Coravin, which is exceptional and really is a game changer. However, in our household we drink a lot of squash too - sugary and not particularly good for you - and lets face it - the main cause of a lot of large bills at the dentists - so I need to find an adequate alternative (I know water is the answer!), that will marry with food and that I can enjoy of an evening without racking up the units. Remembering, the recommended doctor's allowance of units for a week is 14!


Look, I will be straight with you all, I have tried non-alcoholic wines both in the past and indeed in the recent past too. Sparkling white and rose wines particularly, I have felt have done well, but given I consume on a rough scale, 70-80% of my wine consumption for pleasure as reds, then can I find a substitute that has enough substance behind it....🤔


The difficulty with creating a non-alcoholic red wines is the depth of flavour and structured profile, not to mention the layers of aromas and flavours you get with a full bodied varietal. With the fermentation and then ageing or winemaker preferences when it comes to slightly altering the wine to its end product too which can cause increases in price. For non-alcoholic red wines, we have to remember it will be slightly different, especially as many producers do actually recommend them to be lightly chilled too before serving.


💡 The result is that it appears I have created my very own challenge! I am researching Red Wine Non-Alcoholic options! I am going to be taking you through the development and in a special section of this newsletter, report back my findings with prices included too and where possible, where you can buy as a consumer. Stay tuned !


Thank you to those who have reached out and provided guidance and samples for this study of mine, it is appreciated and let's see if we can find a non-alcoholic red wine that is truly worth its weight in gold.


Away from this, it has been a very busy week! I have found myself in Manchester for a great deal of it, with the SITT - The Specialist Importers Trade Tasting followed by a wonderful Premier Cru Chablis tasting from the fantastic Michelle Cherutti, MW at the Northern Wine School. Next up, it was the People's Choice Drinks Awards Ceremony for Finalists in Manchester, and what a fun evening that turned out to be with some fantastic, innovative producers on display across Wine and Spirits.


UNUSUAL GRAPE VARIETAL / REGION OF THE WEEK




🍷 This one is slightly left of centre from 'unusual' because yes it is Pinot Noir and yes it is from Argentina. But I am going to call it unusual because it is not often in the UK, you can find a Patagonian Pinot Noir. The Patagonian climate enables the Pinot Noir grapes to be grown and because of the climate and latitude, enables that acidity to continue to be held. An attractive pale ruby coloured red wine with super crispy cranberry fruits and hints of wild strawberry, a perfect for spring alongside a touch of earthiness and minerality. Soft tannins and a lovely finish mean this is one to recommend. A great price tag too at under £10 a bottle from a variety of UK retailers - one to keep an eye out for especially as the weather begins to change.



🗞️ LATEST DRINKS INDUSTRY ARTICLES 🗞️


TOP ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

This headline grabbed me, as I do have clients are based out in the Middle East in fine wine investment, so it is of little surprise here, especially as these are sectors of the world that are continuing to see an influx of talent. It is certainly seeing some of the benefits of purchasing and taking fine wine there, as it reports with the reduction in taxes (although I believe this is not always passed on to the consumer at restaurants and bars). So I could quite feasibly see the investment piece continue to benefit too as the interest in the alternative asset increases both as a consumerable and an investment class.



OTHER ARTICLES THAT CAUGHT MY EYE THIS WEEK



📈 MARKETS IN BRIEF 📉


On the week (as at 29 Feb 13:00 LDN) changes:


EQUITIES: ⬇️ FTSE 100 down 0.3%; ⬆️ DAX up 1.8%; ⬆️ S&P 500 up 0.4%; ⬆️Nikkei 225 up 0.2%; ⬆️ Dow Jones up 0.27%;

COMMODITIES: ⬇️ Brent Oil down 1.1% ; ⬆️ Crude Oil up 0.9% ; ⬆️ Gold up 0.17%; ⬇️ Silver down 2.4%; ⬇️ Copper down 0.83%

BONDS (in yield terms): ⬇️ UK 2yrs lower 0.2155%; ⬆️ UK 10yrs higher 0.1255%; ⬆️ German 10yrs higher 0.0465%, ⬆️ US 2yrs lower 0.008%; ⬆️ US 10yrs lower 0.016%;


📈In fixed income circles, a pretty lacklustre session so far this week. That being said, there is a cautionary tale as we have main headline data from Europe at the end of this week and PMIs next week which could lead market direction. Central Bank speakers have been active and broadly have sung from the same hymn sheet as the expectation for cuts are clearly looking to be pushed for as long as possible. Note, history tells us that central banks are not proactive but reactive, so expect that delay to be apparent as we look to signals for first cuts to interest rates more locally (in geographical terms). 


📈 Probably also worth noting that whilst tomorrow is the 1st Friday of the month, given that it sits on the first day, Non-Farm Payrolls (US labour data key release each month) will be next Friday. So the market does have a little time to absorb month-end flows on what is a leap year this year too.


📈 Looking slightly more closer to home, UK savings accounts are being flagged at around 5.16% as the top rate currently (source: Moneysavingexpert.com on 29/2) with top notice period accounts a little higher than this. Note, these both will likely incur tax on the interest earned from this, so bear this in mind with your investment decisions. ISA rates (if you have not already used your allocation this year - remembering you get a new ISA allowance from early April in the new tax year) are coming in around 5.09% currently (again same source as above and date).


📈 Short end gilts? These are interesting, if you have factored in maximising what you want to put into your pension, you have maxed out your ISA allowance and are looking for some diversification whilst looking at limiting the tax implied. For short term gilts, if your purchase price is less than 100, then if you hold to maturity (ie till the end date of the government bond maturing) you will receive a capital gain of 100 minus the purchase price, which you do not pay tax on. The tax you pay comes from the coupon interest payments you receive semi-annually. You obviously pay a fee for transacting on the exchange for instruments like this, so there is a trading cost on entry and exit implied too with your provider used.


📈 I will dig into this a little more in the coming weeks, but something to stay on the radar for the time being, especially as interest rates are where they are at the moment and likely to fall.


📈 Fine Wine has been going through a correction as 2023 was a poor year but we are seeing signs of improvement in 2024. The Dec 2023 data (Liv-Ex.com and Vin-X) has shown some pockets, especially in Bordeaux, of growth and indeed on the month, outperformed the FTSE100 performance which fell -1.3%. Additionally, interesting to note was that on exchange, Liv-Ex have reported that value and volumes of trade has increased each month since back in June.


📈 Champagne is certainly worth a thought. It has underperformed on all metrics last year with a -16.1% discount in the year to the end of Jan 2023 which is poor versus other assets. Yet on the last 5 year metrics the Champagne 50 has growth of 48.4% versus 9.5% for the FTSE in comparison. Time to look at buying the dip at cheaper entry levels? Could be a thought!


📈 Asset allocation monthly will be out in 2 weeks time, which will outline thoughts in the end of the tax year and my actions getting ready for the new tax year too.


(Caveat: Please note that in all cases, these are my own personal thoughts and all facts and figures need to be correctly checked alongside speaking to an IFA on financial advice.)


📢📢 ANNOUNCEMENTS 📢📢


This Saturday marks the first 'The Northern Wine Guy' hosting event in Sheffield. The Picture House will be the location for a fun filled and laid back 'Introduction to Wine Tasting' session. For those who have booked, I look forward to seeing you then to explore some really great wines. 


For those who missed out this time around, the next dates for your diary are as follows:



*NEW DATE for the diary (bookings will start shortly): Saturday 11th May: 'Pinks, Reds and Whites for Summer' Wine Tasting at The Picture House in Sheffield.



🎙️ We do have a new podcast release this week too - 'The Northern Wine Guy Podcast Show' under the Series 'What Bottle Is On Your Table, Tonight?' speaks to The British Bouchon Hannah Milnes about life in Montpellier and how she got into the drinks industry. 


🎙️As well as 'The Andy and Olly Show' which amazing spoke around the Swedish Wine Movement and how they have been making red wine in Sweden for close to 18 years - and it really is V V GOOD!


Thanks for reading, we head to ProWein at the end of next week so there will be plenty of footage, videos and interviews following our trip. For more information on services offered around fine wine investing or wine hosting and wine writing commissions, or for marketing, social content creation and more - then get in touch today!


Best Regards


Andrew Lofthouse

aka The Northern Wine Guy


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