Soft drink brands with different variations – Robb Report
When they started dating in the 2010s, Aaron Trotman and his now-wife Miranda spent every spare minute traveling the world on epicurean adventures together. “We were Anthony Bourdain,” says Trotman, a serial entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia, with a background in cosmetics. They signed up for food tours in Paris and hunted down the best ramen in Tokyo. In New York and London, they booked the most talked about Michelin star restaurants. Although she often ordered wine pairings with her lengthy tasting menu, Miranda, flushed from drinking alcohol, opted for non-alcoholic wine substitutes. To their surprise, these home-made lemons, more savory than sweet, were often more interesting than his aged cuvees. “Miranda’s drinks were very creative with unique ingredients,” he recalls.
Back home in Melbourne in 2018, one particularly eye-opening meal, the 14-course tasting menu at Lume, inspired Trotman not only gastronomically but also entrepreneurially. It was particularly well received with the distilled apple juice infused with marigold leaves and peppercorns, a crawfish dish and iced green tea with fresh lemon for dessert. “All of a sudden it hit me,” she recalls of her eureka moment. “Why can’t I drink empty glasses” sitting in front of non-drinkers?
Before long, he was putting in 16-hour days in the kitchen, working with a chef friend to develop his signature wines, signature blends as complex as the real thing. The pair experimented with a wide range of ingredients. They made a cold extraction of raspberries, dehydrated oranges and stewed cherries, and used tea and spices and salt from the Murray River in Australia. They are twisted to create body, structure and texture juicy, unripe grape juice that provides the fresh acidity that gives wine its flavor. White versions are infused with yuzu, orange and roasted cinnamon, among other ingredients. Reds are blended with chocolate to create the tannins that are essential to making classic red wine.
“We created the flavor by striking the balance between fruit, tannins, salinity and acidity found in the world’s best wines,” says Trotman.
Since he launched Non in 2019 with three alternative wines, several competitors have followed him into the market. As the category for these non-wine “wines” is still new, the classification name has not yet been retained. But whether they’re called wine substitutes, alternative wines, or charmingly off-the-wall wine, these inventive libations are sparking a wave of creativity in the industry and attracting new fans.
Trotman was one of the first commercial producers to adopt a culinary approach, preparing concoctions in a professional chef’s kitchen equipped with ovens, dehydrators and sous-vide devices. As Trotman discovered in his travels, many top restaurants, such as Chicago’s three-star Michelin Alinea, offer diners their own alcohol-free creations, eschewing the generally unsatisfactory alcohol-free wines—chemically refined wines. alcohol content and usually increases with sugar – in favor of home-made elixirs on the market.
“We didn’t want people [abstaining from alcohol] “Feeling less,” says Alinea Restaurant Group’s Allen Hemberger, who co-authors with his wife Sarah Zero: A New Approach to Soft Drinks. “We wanted them to have the same amazing experience as everyone else, to be taken care of to order.”
Cultural changes are also underway. Today, even die-hard oenophiles sometimes make alcohol-free choices while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A recent study found that 78 percent of nonalcoholic and soft drink consumers also drink alcohol. And in 2013, 4,000 people in Great Britain abstained from alcohol for a month, and now Dry January has become a full-fledged global phenomenon. Additionally, Gen Z absorbs 20 percent less than their millennial peers. Among wine alternatives in particular, there is a large audience for non-alcoholic options just in time for a rise in quality.
Visit any Boisson, a new chain of soft drink stores with outposts in California and New York, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s even more to choose from at Zero Proof, an e-commerce site that ships anywhere in the US. “Non-alcoholic wine is our premium category and it’s growing like crazy,” says founder and CEO Sean Goldsmith. “Demand has grown so big that brands can’t even keep up with the growth.”
According to Goldsmith, his customers are also frequent drinkers.
“They want soft drink to have an impact on their workday,” he says.
There are a growing number of health claims among the wine alternatives filling the shelves of new outlets. For example, Blurred Vines, the UK Three Spirit’s 2022 release, boasts the immune system-boosting, energizing effects of its drinks’ antioxidants and polyphenols. Partners Dash Lilly, Tatiana Mercer and Mita Gurnai built the brand around “botanical alchemy,” describing their vision, working with a natural winemaker and food scientist and a fermentation expert on their proprietary enzymes, key fruits and yeasts. Italian apricot and white grapes bring high acidity and distinct aromas to the company’s first two releases, Sharp and Spark. Sharp, a fruity blend, features pressed green gooseberry juice with manuka leaf and Ethiopian coseret, among other exotic botanicals. “It clears the mind and energizes with zero caffeine,” says Lilly, who oversees product development.
Spark, a bubbly brew that’s loosely reminiscent of champagne, features pressed strawberries and red currants and a blend of black and green tea from London’s Rare Tea Company, as well as cayenne pepper and schizandra berry (a once-consumed adaptogen). by fighter pilots hoping to increase endurance).
Vinegar, a byproduct of winemaking, long known for its gut health benefits, is a natural starting point for the production of alcohol-free wine substitutes. Acid League, a vinegar producer from Canada, has made a leap with its new division, Wine Proxies, launched two years ago. Sparkling, white, rosé and red varieties – with fanciful names like Sauvage, Zephyr and Gallica – are complex blends of juices, teas, spices, bitters and, of course, vinegar. The company began developing limited-edition collaborations with renowned culinary figures, including Michelin three-star chef Dominique Crenn (Riesling). juicyyuzu and tea), sommelier and winemaker Andre Mack (marion berries, pu-erh tea and kola nut) and James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock (blackberry, pawpaw and pine).
Launched in the UK in early 2020 by veteran wine writer Matthew Jukes, Jukes Cordialities lets you make a ‘wine’ of macerated fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices using apple cider vinegar concentrate. Each little bottle is filled with wine-like flavorings and designed to be added to your choice of soda, tonic or water. The rose has hints of melon, pomegranate and pear with Mediterranean herbs. The combined flavors are meant to conjure up what is known in wine circles as the classic thyme and lavender-scented garrigue of the Mediterranean coast.
In many ways, the emerging world of still wine mirrors the world of wine itself. Like the most radical natural winemakers—for example, the pottery in the Republic of Georgia is filled with product before being buried in the ground to age—some new players are reimagining the category entirely. Muri comes from Copenhagen’s Noma New Scandinavian Gastronomy. Founder Murray Paterson was once a distiller at Empirical, a spirits company founded by a team of Noma alumni.
Paterson began creating his first wine alternative as a sole trader in early 2020 during the first recession of the pandemic. “It took me six months to develop my first wine,” he says. He started with a traditional Eastern European brewed kvass base made from leftover bread, then added wild herbs such as fennel from the forests around Copenhagen. The result is a cross between Passing Clouds pét nat (a natural sparkling wine) and a wheat beer with a hint of pear cider.
Muri releases so many foraged components that he has a contract forager. “He’s an idiot,” says Paterson. “He’s actually a skilled wizard.”
Each new compound goes through a complex development process. Yamile, Muri’s radiant rose took a year to get right. The recipe includes beechwood-smoked rhubarb, gooseberry, fermented raspberries, pink peppercorns and angelica root. “There’s a lot of goofing around before we make the final mix,” he says with a laugh.
While Moury’s interesting drinks are the kind of difficult sips that a natural wine connoisseur might appreciate, Trotman’s refined bottles for Non are the ultimate Bordeaux in the non-alcoholic wine world. More recently, they’ve started appearing on the menus of fine-dining restaurants—the kinds of places that first inspired their creation.
In January, Michelin three-star chef Daniel Hamm hosted an unpaired dinner at New York’s Eleven Madison Park to celebrate the brand’s US debut, featuring five concoctions of Trotman’s vegetarian creations. “It’s a beautiful product,” Humm says, praising the balance and low sugar content.
“It’s time for a change,” adds Humm, who will switch to a plant-based menu in 2021. “People are pushing new frontiers with fermentation. This also happens with drinks in the non-alcoholic space. It’s amazing how many options people don’t have. I applaud them for pushing the boundaries.”
Before introducing Noon to a tough New York audience—the second time they poured—Trotman consulted with experts at home. “I wanted to make sure we were ready,” he says. In addition to the first three bottles to hit the US market, he still has dozens of recipes waiting to be launched. A super-premium version is also in the works, as is the fine wine, priced from $100 to $200 a bottle. He played with “rare ingredients,” he says. Truffles? Saffron? Trotman keeps the recipe close to his goal for now. “I don’t need my competitors to shake off my ideas.”