The worlds of wine and coffee collide in an unusual new launch featured by Gama this week – Friends Fun Wine Coffee-Flavoured Wine.
New in the US, Friends’s melding of coffee and wine is the latest addition to the company’s range of low-alcohol “fun wines”, which come in cans and primarily target party occasions. Blending sweet coffee flavours with red and white wine, Friends’s latest invention focuses on novelty taste experience: one product is a red wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon combined with espresso coffee and a hint of chocolate, while the second – Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino – is said to feature sweet Chardonnay grapes with vanilla cappuccino coffee and smooth hints of chocolate. Both products have 6% alcohol by volume and, according to Friends, “strongly align with our mission to deliver a fun drinking experience”.
While Friends’s offering may be pitched firmly at a fun-seeking crowd, the launch of a wine / coffee crossover product says much about the recent phenomenon of ‘coffee connoisseurship’, which has seen ever greater numbers of consumers taking an interest in the diversity and quality of coffee as a gourmet product in its own right. Just as with wine, factors such as provenance as well as growing methods and conditions have increasingly entered the vocabulary of premium coffee, while appreciation for the complex organoleptic properties of different types of coffee and the myriad means of their preparation has also reached new heights.
In terms of product innovation, however, taking advantage of the convergence of the gourmet coffee and wine scenes may prove easier said than done, and careful differentiation is critical. While products such as Friends Fun Wine may appeal to younger drinkers with their emphasis on sweet and adventurous flavour combinations, they are unlikely to attract real connoisseurs of either fine wines or premium coffee. For this audience, companies might instead focus on exploring the possibilities of judicious merchandising, bringing together wine and coffee based on – for instance – complementary tasting notes or provenance, thus meeting demand from these ‘connoisseurs’ for a more authentic product experience.