This week we joined Argentina and Chile at the Wines of the Beautiful South Trade Tasting in London and I’ll shortly share some of my insights, but today, I couldn’t resist sharing the story of Dubai’s latest luxury!
In a city where you can find the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, man-made islands, spectacular hotels, the largest shopping mall in the world, an indoor ski resort and police cars that include a McLaren MP4-12C, a Lamborghini, an Aston Martin, a Bentley, a Ferrari and a Chevrolet, wine with real gold in it should perhaps not be a surprise.
And although it is not the first time gold make it into alcohol, as far as I know it is the first time it is replacing the alcohol! Yes indeed, Fin24.com this morning reported on Dubai’s latest offer of grandeur, a $150 bottle of wine with flecks of 24-carat edible gold leaf in it – but before you fork out the money for this special new offering, keep in mind that this wine contains no alcohol. The wine with its Spanish origin, bears the Lussory label known for their 0% alcohol wines.
But what is non-alcoholic wine?
In essence, non-alcoholic wine is regular wine from which the alcohol has been removed. More than grape juice, the wine is made from normal wine grape varietals, following all the regular wine-making processes. To remove the alcohol after fermentation, usually one of two processes are introduced.
Vacuum distillation using spinning cones: This process requires the alcoholic liquid (wine or beer) to be put under a vacuum. The change in atmospheric pressure allows boiling at a low temperature. While allowing the alcohol to be distilled off, boiling at such a low temperature enables the liquid to maintain its flavour – something that might get lost at high temperatures.
Reverse osmosis: This process does not require any heating. The alcoholic liquid is filtered through a filter of which the small pores only allow the passage of alcohol and water. This alcohol / water mix is then distilled to remove the alcohol before the water is added back to everything that has not passed through the filter.
Allowing the wine to ferment before removing the alcohol does allow the non-alcoholic wine to taste quite similar to the real deal. I do believe however that you compromise on some flavour, fullness and mouth-feel.
According to Jeff Meier, director of winemaking for the well-known non-alcoholic wine brand, Ariel, alcohol does actually make wine taste slightly sweeter and therefore non-alcoholic wines need a residual sugar content of 2.5 percent to best match a completely dry (no residual sugar) alcoholic wine. Of course, most alcoholic wines do have some RS as well.
Islamic laws only allowing the consumption of alcohol in Dubai’s hotels, having a non-alcoholic wine does of course make sense. And with a large part of the community not drinking alcohol, these wines are a good alternative to soft drinks – especially when it comes to fine dining!
Paying $150 for a bottle because of the novelty gold leaf – alcohol or no alcohol – is hopefully something I would never have to consider, I enjoy the genuine version of wine way too much!