RECENTLY, I tried some blue wine, the same blue-coloured wine that has taken western Europe by storm. Vinos of all qualities, shapes and sizes are being swept away by it voluntarily or otherwise. Let’s face it. Everything we’ve known about wine, since Bacchus first taught us how to make it, stands reversed on its head with a wine that is so blue it makes the royals look like cheap stand-ins.
And they claim it’s natural. The pigment used to dye the wine blue is already present in red wines. Someone just went and extracted it, and then concentrated it—like 10 times over or more, whatever it took. So yes, natural. It won’t kill you, if that’s what you are wondering. Also, you won’t be expected to shell out extra for the tint. If anything, this wine comes cheap. Even the Indian price, once it gets released, sounds reasonably within reach. The wine is for the soft, easy drinker with some sugar to make it less sour and more acceptable, especially for the uninitiated.
Apparently so popular is the craze for this wine that after Gik, which was the original blue wine, other brands have also been launched in classical flattery-through-imitation style. But this growth can be a sign of impending trouble. Trouble like: could this fad become something more than just that? Could this dumbing down have a prolonged effect on the way consumers perceive wine for years to come? What if blue wine becomes more economically profitable than, say, rosé wines? Would I be writing an epitaph for all things blush a decade from today? What if someone decides to make violet or magenta wines and wipe out the market for entry-level red blends? Well frankly, at that end of the drinking and spending spectrum, trends can be fast evolving. Nobody can tell whether it will go away or is here to stay. What we can assume is that a blue wine is definitely unprecedented and only time will tell just how deep the impact is.
Back on home soil, who do we think would be on the market for blue wine? Practically anyone, really. As I said, it’s a bit off-dry, so purists would avoid the wine for all that sugar even if the wine had been a rare shade of Bordeaux. But apart from them, those who like a simple fun wine wouldn’t mind it. It tastes crisp like a white wine and nondescript like most imported white wines under the R3,000 mark. And this isn’t a bad thing, for when I get a simple quaffer, I am not looking for intense varietal character or style typicity. As long as it’s easy to drink and easy on the pocket, it’s good to go. This wine ticks all those boxes, and it’s blue to boot.
While on the colour blue, look out for the newest Ukrainian import. Khortytsa is a lovely, clean, crisp vodka, which comes in a frosted white bottle that turns blue when it’s aptly chilled. It’s easy to sip on ice and lends itself well to cocktails. But the fact that the bottle changes colour might be the bigger novelty that makes you buy it. We may be grown up, but having a little childish fun is never beyond us.
Blue wine and a colour-changing vodka bottle, you now have all the party tricks you will need to dazzle at the next house jam.
The writer is a sommelier
This article was first published in Financial Express.