Winemakers in Chile are now permitted to begin exporting wines with a lower alcohol content, announced Minister of Agriculture Luis Mayol and Minister of Economy Pablo Longueira on Tuesday.
Prior to this, wines had to contain at least 11.5 percent alcohol to be considered wine, but that level has been lowered to 8.5 percent, allowing Chilean winemakers to reach new markets worldwide.
“There is a growing trend globally, especially in young women, to consume wines with less alcohol content,” Mayol told the press.
According to analysis from ProChile and Wines of Chile, key markets for the lower proof Chilean wines will be the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and parts of Asia.
With the new legislation, Chilean wines are now on par with the standards that exist for wine in Europe.
Although it used to be possible to export lower-grade wine, the process was complex and bureaucratic because universal standards for lower alcohol wine had not been agreed upon.
René Araneda, president of Wines of Chile, welcomed the change to a clearer system and the support it will provide Chilean exporters.
“It has moved from case-by-case criteria to a general standard and this is very positive for the industry,” said Araneda.
The new regulation will increase Chile’s competitiveness and encourage Chilean vineyards to develop new styles of production.
The change also promises new geographic opportunities, allowing vineyards to expand into Chile’s southern regions that are better suited for cultivating grapes with lower concentrations of sugar.
While lauding the decision for its impact on exports, however, Araneda urged the Chilean government to bring domestic wine standards into line with the new export regulations.
The 11.5 percent alcohol rule continues to apply to national wine sales and consumption, placing Chilean vineyards at a disadvantage in the domestic market. Currently, Chilean consumers seeking lower proof wine are limited to imported brands.