Nothing says summer like the gentle sparkle of a white wine spritzer – but are you brave enough to try beer made from urine? Rosie Greenaway opens the drinks cabinet to sample the sector’s most interesting launches of late
Actor Mads Mikkelsen’s captivating performance in the 2020 Danish dark comedy Another Round uncorks the social, professional and familial impacts of excessive alcohol consumption. ONS stats from the same year report a 20% increase in alcohol-specific deaths across England’s South East. “These figures must slap council leaders across the face and force them to take real action. If they don’t, more people will die,” experts warn. But even grim figures teamed with a cost of living crisis aren’t deterring shoppers; April saw a spike in UK alcohol sales, accounting for a surprise economic boost. So, let’s
look at how the category’s shaping up.
A tender tipple
Wine and food pairings are nothing new, but Chardonnay infused with green veg should be a first for most connoisseurs. This summer, during English Wine Week, a unique tipple hit shelves which dared to ‘marry the vineyard with the vegetable patch’. ‘Tendernay’ partners oaky Chardonnay from Lyme Bay Winery with sweet, peppery notes of tenderstem broccoli stalks to entice people to eat more vibrant green veg.
In other wine-related news, online retailer Vinissimus notes that organic vino which stands out with distinctive labelling is among ‘the most sought after in COVID times’, while The International Organization of Vine and Wine confirms organic viticulture is gaining territory as more vintners endeavour to take greater care of the soil their vines depend on. For e-commerce site Lucy’s Wine, accessibility to sustainable wines is key; founder Lucy Dalwadi hopes to ‘rip up the rule book in an industry dominated by men speaking a language that can be intimidating and excluding’.
Top consumer concerns of sustainability and convenience are catered for by Daylesford’s vegan Organic Sparkling Italian White Wine Can, and canned Organic Malbec by Wild Steps, grown with environmental responsibility at its heart, while South Australian winemaker The Hidden Sea aims to remove ten plastic bottle from oceans and rivers by 2030 – a mark of respect for the ancient fossilized limestone landscape on which its grapes grow.
Glass bottle half full
How heartening it is to see a growing community of retailers offering boozy refills which support sustainable alcohol brands. Among them are Harriet’s of Hove, where customers can stock up on wine without the packaging waste, and Reno Refills in Wymondham and Jarrold’s deli in Norwich, which both top up empties with local Norfolk gin brands. Staying with Norwich, Bullards Handcrafted Gin offers the Eco-Refill Pouch, facilitated by post.
In the Midlands The Clean Kilo’s latest concept has been dubbed ‘the greenest bar going’. In a space boasting ‘chilled vibes and sophistication with an environmental bonus’, drinkers can help themselves to wine and fizz from the bar’s self-service tap wall or sip on carbon negative rum by Two Drifters.
Elsewhere in the spirits aisle, several brands stand out; female-founded Montanya Rum from the Rocky Mountains boasts B Corp certification; Caribbean-born The Tidal Rum uses pepper dulse seaweed, trimmed at low tide to allow the plant to regenerate; Wildjac focuses on locally foraged ingredients to give its Honey Spiced Rum a competitive edge; and from Fatty’s Organic Spirits comes Pink Grapefruit Spirit Drink made with half the alcoholic content of its original gin – a move which speaks to the growing low-and-no market.
Remember SodaStream and its ‘get busy with the fizzy’ slogan? Children of the ’70s and ’80s will recall it being quite the sought-after kitchen gadget, and the flavour possibilities of its concentrated syrups will provoke nostalgia for a generation which grew up with fizzy pop on tap.
Fast-forward several decades and carbonating drinks machines are having a revival thanks to plastic waste awareness – but SodaStream isn’t alone on the market. Rivalling it is the Drinkmate Omnifizz, new to the UK this year. Its USP is its ability to carbonate any cool liquid ‘at the touch of a button’ – juice, sports drinks, chilled tea, cocktails and of course water – meaning that an organic white wine spritzer or vodka, lime and soda can be whipped up in seconds, without the plastic waste. An online exchange programme facilitates the gas canister replacement and the unit, which takes up little space on kitchen counters, comes in black, white, red or arctic blue.
Beer, but not as you know it
Fancy a beer? You might change your mind when you learn that one Singapore brewery is turning urine into tropical blond ale. NewBrew is created using NeWater – a purified liquid recycled from sewage. Singapore’s water agency used the launch to highlight the country’s water scarcity and educate consumers on the safety of NeWater. The verdict on Singapore’s streets is largely positive, but it might be a hard sell in the UK – perhaps chickpea beer might go down better with Brits? The most interesting beer to emerge from our French neighbours in recent years, Socca Bièra Bière aux Pois Chiches is, as the name suggests, brewed using chickpeas, giving it a thick foam. But if that’s still a stretch for British beer buffs, Daylesford’s Organic Cotswold Blonde Gluten Free Lager and Toast’s ‘citrussy, hoppy, plant-saving’ Session IPA are both refreshing on the palette.
And when the body needs some morning-after nourishment, it’s Kinetic to the rescue with Nature’s Answer Milk Thistle Seed Alcohol-Free Liquid Extract and Ener-C Multivitamin Drink Mix – Lemon & Lime. Bottoms up.
Fatty’s Organic Spirits
Fatty’s Organic Spirits is guaranteed organic quality that is sustainable, environmentally friendly and most importantly, always great tasting; we are the winner of 2 stars at The Great Taste Awards, Gold at International Spirits Masters, Silver at The International Wine and Spirits Awards and Winner of Nations Favourite Organic Product by Soil Association.
We have carefully curated a range including a London Dry Gin, lower alcohol Pink Grapefruit Spirit, English Vodka and Winter Spiced Orange Gin, all available in 70cl and 20cl bottles. 100% Soil Association accredited organic.
Available to buy direct, or though CLF, Suma and Vintage Roots.
MontGras Organic wines
Montgras Organic wine range was inspired by the self-sustaining ecosystem created in organic vineyards, without the use of chemical and synthetic products. The fauna that exists in the vineyards makes it possible to naturally control the different pests that attack the vine as also plays an important weed control and pollination role.
The vines are fertilized through the composting of the bunches and leaves after the winemaking process. The Chilean range includes a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a vibrant Pinot Noir and a rich Red blend and is 100% vegan friendly.
MontGras Organic is available through SUMA, Essential Trading and CLF Wholesale.
Since 1986 we’ve been on a mission to bring you quality organic drinks that are fine on the palate, kind to the planet and fair on the pocket. With over 500 certified organic and biodynamic wines, beers, ciders, spirits and alcohol free, we cover the whole of the UK, so if you are a restaurant, shop, deli or an enthusiastic wine lover – do get in touch for our wine brochure, offer details and to arrange a call or visit from one of our sales managers. We are very happy to make selections for you, to help with food and wine pairings, design Wine Lists, help with wine tastings, provide shelf talkers and information leaflets, and more.
We have built up a selection of over 45 No Sulphur Added organic wines, in recent years which are of increasing interest to the health conscious drinker. These along with many of our detailed vegan range can all be sold at competitive prices.