Liquid lunches are getting a new lease of life, thanks to low-alcohol wines.

"There's a wave of low-alcohol wine coming out of New Zealand. Low-alcohol rieslings are starting to become quite popular," said Listener wine writer Michael Cooper.

James Barber, who distributes wines including a 9 per cent sauvignon blanc, said definitions of low-alcohol wine were inexact - but 10 per cent was a reasonable cut-off.

Cooper said Marlborough winemaker Dr John Forrest developed a low-alcohol riesling after restaurateurs struggled to sell wines with lunch.


Patrons downing two or more glasses were worried they'd be incoherent on returning to work while people attending lengthy social functions were fans of low-alcohol plonk.

Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said low-alcohol wines were swallowing a growing share of the market.

"We've certainly seen the emergence of a number of white table wine styles in recent years with lower alcohol," Gregan said.

"People are looking for the same quality wine as any other, but with a low-alcohol content."

Some of the wines were made by picking grapes earlier - they had lower sugar levels and fewer calories.

Cooper said even no-alcohol wines occasionally surfaced but most failed in the market.

"If you strip the wine out of it, you're back to fruit juice."