A Look at Low Alcohol Content Beer and Wine


According to the data supplied by healthcare practitioners, many Europeans have a drinking problem.

In Great Britain, for example, reports show that excessive wine drinking has been increasing among middle class professionals. As a result, the UK government is proposing the production of wines that contain less alcohol.

Indeed, a campaign has already been under way across Europe to reduce the alcohol content of one alcoholic beverage from 8.5% to 4.5%, thus allowing the beverage to be classified as a wine.

A Change to the "Wine Rules"

Great Britain, however, is not alone in this proposal. Indeed, according to Earl Howe, the UK Health Minister, the UK government has long proposed a change to the European Union "wine rules" so that non-alcoholic and reduced alcohol beverages can be classified as "wines."

In line with this proposal, the UK government has been pushing for supermarkets to stock and sell more reduced-alcohol products like wine and beer.

It is reasoned that decreasing the alcohol content in wine and beer will help reduce the long-term health problems exhibited by many European drinkers.

In fact, such a plan is needed now due to the increasing number of Europeans who are being admitted to the hospital for alcohol-related cancer and liver disease.

What Will be Decided at the Negotiable Table?

While Portugal, Italy, France, and other European nations have not agreed to the redefined "wine rules" that would include various non-alcoholic and reduced alcohol beverages as "wines," Mr. Howe thinks that this can be accomplished at the negotiable table.

Four Possible Results

It is asserted that reducing the alcohol content of wine and beer in the UK and in other European nations will have the following four results.

Drinkers who drink in moderation. First, wine and beer drinkers who already drink in moderation will continue to do so. In fact, many "responsible" drinkers will probably drink even less beer and wine.

This, however, will NOT result in fewer long-term alcohol-related health problems since, by definition, drinking in moderation is not associated with health problems that are associated with excessive drinking.

Chronic alcohol abusers and alcoholics. Second, chronic alcohol abusers and alcoholics will simply drink more beer and wine if the alcohol content in their alcoholic beverages is reduced.

As a consequence, This will NOT result in fewer long-term alcohol-related health problems since problem drinkers who need a specific amount of alcohol for their "buzz" will simply drink more of their favorite alcoholic beverage.

Reduced alcohol content liquor. Third, the trend to decrease the alcohol content in wine and beer will make its way into the world of liquor as new "reduced alcohol content liquor" will be sold at bars, restaurants, state stores, and at sporting events.

Not unlike the other "reduced" products such as beer and wine, however, reducing the alcohol content in liquor will NOT result in any significant reduction in people's long-term health problems.

Why? Because those who already drink in moderation won't be effected by the alcohol reduction in their drinks while alcoholics and chronic alcohol abusers will simply drink more of the reduced alcohol content drinks to get the "high" they desire.

Safe drinking patterns of new drinkers. And fourth, many of the new drinkers who will be introduced to the reduced alcohol content beverages will develop "safe drinking" patterns.

If enough new drinkers become responsible drinkers, moreover, over time this could substantially reduce the overall number of people who exhibit alcohol-related illnesses and diseases because these "moderate" drinkers will not add to the group of "problem drinkers."


In sum, developing alcoholic beverages that contain less alcohol certainly "sounds good."

In realistic terms, however, this trend will not significantly reduce the long-term alcohol-related diseases and illnesses exhibited by most problem drinkers unless major changes are made in the current "drinking culture" via enhanced alcohol education and prevention programs.

To view the original source for this article, see reduced alcohol content beer and wine in the European Union.