Inspired by the dry January tradition Cara attended her first ever alcohol free wine tasting, launched by Oddbird wines, in collaboration with the quirky Zetter Townhouse.
Have you ever opened a bar menu, flipped through to find alcohol free options and got silently startled by how short the section was?
There are so many wines, beers, spirits and cocktails that bars and restaurants serve in the UK. Yet when it comes to alcohol free options the choice sits between ginger beer, virgin Mojito, Piña Colada and Seedlip & tonic if you are lucky. I have never seen alcohol free wine for instance until now.
I recently visited The Zetter Townhouse, Farringdon to sample alcohol free wines or “liberated from alcohol” as per the logo by Oddbird. For January only Oddbird has launched a collaboration with these two venues at Marylebone and Farringdon to change the nation’s vision about alcohol norms.
Oddbird was created in 2003. It produces wines made from grapes from small family-owned vineyards. Many of these vineyards are certified organic and support minimal intervention farming and production.
Meaning the wine is as natural as possible without added sugars, preservatives or flavourings. “How is it alcohol free?” – one of the visitors asked sommelier Bert Blaize during the wine tasting.
Oddbird wine it seems is prepared the way traditional wine is also made, by letting the grapes ferment with the natural yeast already present on the grapes. After aging, which is 12 months for most Oddbird wines, the wine is gently heated to liberate it of alcohol using a patented technology. The process is called vacuum distillation.
And the taste? I was keen to sample the wines. I wondered if removing the alcohol still meant it would taste like ordinary wine with alcohol. I started with low intervention Oddbird organic white wine.
The white is a blend of juicy yet light Garganega and Vespaiolo grapes native to an Italian Breganze town in the north. The wine was easy drinking, with citrus, pear and floral honey notes.
It did taste like normal white with minerality but without that really dry acidic touch to it, which I don’t enjoy in white wines anyway.
We then paired it with crab macaroni bites and prawn tempura topped with lemon sauce and fresh dill. Just like white wine, it complimented the flavour and further opened up on the tongue.
After we sampled the red, Pinot Noir & Merlot also from the Veneto region. Like the white it is also organic and micro vinified in Barriques and Tonneaux. It had a smooth feel on the tongue with blackberry, cherry and slight pomegranate notes. It was easy drinking.
I probably would not have guessed that it was alcohol-free. It would suit those who enjoy lighter reds with less tannins, or strong oak barrel presence. It paired very well with minty lamb meatballs and a pulled duck mini orange tart.
During the sampling I also tried Oddbird sparkling rosé from France, which had a silky strawberries and cream palate with citrus notes. It was not sweet, but rather pleasantly acidic with limestone. The rosé is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
The Zetter and Oddbird also created a list of cocktails for January including Sbagliato Sbagliato a combination of the Oddbird red, sparkling rosé, Italian orange and a grapefruit garnish. It is a great refreshing cocktail with prominent orange zest touch.
While Breakfast at Tiffany’s was sweet and perfect as a dessert cocktail. It is preprared using a croissant infusion and topped with Oddbird Blanc de Blancs. The croissant infusion has an interesting story, it is made from surplus croissants from the hotel breakfast at the Zetter Townhouse.
The cocktail really smells like freshly baked croissants yet it is a drink. It was something special and pleasantly unusual to drink such a flavour. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sparkling Rose came paired with a chilled Belgium chocolate éclair and a warm apricot and almond mini tart. It was a well-paired mini afternoon tea experience.
To sum up, while I have not tried any alcohol-free wines before I have heard less than enchanting stories about them. I think Oddbird is as good as alcohol-free wines get. It follows the traditional methods of wine making, while using the finest ingredients, supporting smaller farms and promoting sustainability.
Oddbird wines also contain less calories compared to wines with alcohol. About 1/10th less to be exact. They are all vegan friendly and produce over six times less CO2 impact compared to the average vineyard.
When it comes to flavour I think it is important to remember as with any “free from” product is to treat it as separate product or a dish rather than how closely it replicates the “with” product.
Currently Oddbird range includes Oddbird Spumante from the Prosecco region, Blanc de Blancs and Sparkling Rosé wines along with the newly launched low-intervention organic red and white wines, which will be available for purchase soon.
RRP’S & STOCKISTS
Oddbird Spumante RRP £8.99 – available now from Amazon, SPIRIT.ED, Dry Drinker, Alcohol Free Company, Club AF and Dunell’s
Oddbird Blanc de Blancs RRP £9.99 – Available from Amazon, SPIRIT.ED, Harvey Nichols, Dry Drinker, Alcohol Free Company, Light Drinks, Club AF and The Wine Reserve
Oddbird Sparkling Rosé Wine RRP £9.99 – Available from Amazon, SPIRIT.ED, Harvey Nichols, Dry Drinker, Alcohol Free Company, Club AF and The Wine Reserve