"Flavoursome, elegant and truly unique, REAL kombucha wine is our latest obsession here at Virgin Wines HQ."
We promise you: we didn't pay them to write that. We're as blown-away by Virgin Wines' recent blogpost as anyone. Of course, we're confident in the fact that we are making great non-alcoholic drinks that seem to be having a genuinely positive effect on peoples' lives (thank you so much for your emails and social media posts – the feedback has made everything so much more worthwhile), but it's another thing entirely when a company known for their association with the world of wine steps up and nails their colours to our mast.
We were delighted when, a month or so ago, Virgin Wines chose to stock REAL. They were the first online wine shop to do so,
and we were impressed with their forward-thinking nature. Their customers are able to put together and order a case that features a variety of wines, so offering up a non-alcoholic option really addresses the change in drinking behaviour we've been seeing. Not only does it cater to the significant growth of teetotallers in the UK, it also takes into account behavioural changes amongst people that drink alcohol. If there's the option of a good-tasting non-alcoholic, people are more willing and likely to moderate their intake – maybe bookending their evening with something sophisticated but less likely to intoxicate.
We've also been impressed with their position on 'kombucha wine'. It's rare to find a wine merchant so ready to tout the idea that the tea plant is equal to the grapevine...
"This is a wine that is made without a single grape in sight... incredibly expressive and flavoursome, yet low in sugar and calories, with a crisp acidity and sparkling texture that is rare to find in a non-alcoholic wine."
...and who will also view the production of tea with the same level of respect as they would a vineyard.
"Much like wine produced from grapes, these wines not only take on the flavours and characteristics of the teas they’re produced from, they’re also heavily influenced by the climate and terroir of the region the tea was grown in."
We thank them, too, for helping further the realisation that tea can be so much more than the humble cuppa. And this goes way beyond the production of 'kombucha wine'. Tea has been undergoing something of a reappraisal for some time, with more and more chefs and hoteliers looking at the flavour profiles and possibilities that it has to offer.
"Using tea as the key ingredient, you get a wine with a refined and sophisticated palate, along with plenty of acidity from the organic acids that occur during fermentation. It’s these complex flavours and crisp texture that make these wines so ideal for pairing with food, as well as enjoying as a refreshing aperitif."
And if you've ever wondered quite why our drinks tick all the boxes for so many chefs and foodies, the Virgin Wines author has summed it all up in this neat paragraph:
"The high acidity of these wines make them ideal for pairing with rich and fatty foods, as it cuts through the fat to create a refreshing balance on the palate. Their sophisticated flavours also make them a great match for many delicacies, and you’ll often find them paired with light fish dishes and oysters."
Lastly, as you might expect from one of the country's best-known wine merchants, they know a thing or two about the right way to serve what they're calling 'kombucha wine'. We've said it ourselves before, but it has so much to do with glassware and that sense of occasion.
"Both Dry Dragon and Royal Flush are best treated like a dry white wine or a sparkling wine when it comes to serving – chilled and served in smaller wine glasses or flutes, as these thinner glass designs keep wines cool and crisp for longer. The narrow glassware will also drive those floral and fruity character notes to your nose, just as they would with a wine made from grapes."
We thank Virgin Wines once again for helping to introduce REAL to a much wider audience, and for furthering the idea that 'kombucha wine' is something to be taken seriously. We'll raise a glass to you any day of the week.