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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Josie Butchart

The wine industry must start breaking down age barriers and make wine the drink of choice for 18-24 year olds, according to Financial Times restaurant correspondent Nicholas Lander. Speaking at a Wine Intelligence Leading Thinkers Group Dinner in London he said: The inherent challenge the wine trade faces is following the example of the restaurant industry and broadening its appeal to younger audiences. Restaurants have transformed themselves over the past 15 years and made themselves far more accessible to a younger market. Wine must do the same.' Paul Henry, the Australian Wine Bureau's regional manager for UK and Ireland, responded by saying that risibly little is being done by the industry to grow the market as a whole rather than just market share. We should all be sitting around the table and thinking about why young people are drinking beer or FABs rather than just pushing existing wine drinkers around our competing categories,' he said. Lander went on to explain that the first step should be the introduction of screwcaps for all wines. The top 10-15% of fine wines will always be closed under cork but [for other wines] screwcaps have to be the way forward. You can't underestimate the challenge of selling wine to a new market,' he said. Bob Burgess, customer marketing manager for the on-trade at Constellation Europe, commented that drinkers are driven by occasion and young people choose their drinks accordingly. We need to produce wines in a style that appeals to the occasion when they are drunk. The growth of minis, wine by the glass and speed of serve is important,' he said. The industry needs to get ready for the introduction of a smoking ban, more women coming into the market and food in more pub outlets. All these dynamics will create a more conducive atmosphere for wine in the on-trade.'