Blue wine from Spain may hit NZ
Roses are red, violets are blue — and so too is your wine.
A new tipple is set to hit New Zealand shelves "as soon as possible", arriving all the way from Spain.
And no, it's not a new red variety, or even a white. It's blue.
The wine - produced by Spanish startup company Gik - is billed as the world's first blue wine.
It is made from red and white grapes, then anthocyanin (a pigment found in grape skin) and indigotine dye are added to turn it blue.
The creators then change the flavour "as if it was a soft drink", by adding non-caloric sweeteners.
Aritz Lopez, one of the founders, said the process of turning the wine blue meant a lot to them.
"We read a book called the Blue Ocean Strategy, that says that there are two kind of oceans: the red ones, full of sharks (competitors) fighting against each other for a few fishes (clients) and turning the ocean red because of the blood; and it talked about creating blue oceans, oceans where, thanks to creativity and innovation, everyone could be free.
"It looked like poetry to us to turn a traditionally red beverage into a blue one, so it couldn't be any other colour."
They wanted to create a revolution for people to enjoy, and the wine industry looked like the perfect place to do it, he said.
"It is a very traditional industry surrounded by ancient rules that tell people what to do — that's why Gik has no rules."
Dunedin School of Medicine professor Jennie Connor said the blue wine looked like "a short-lived gimmick in the cheap sweet drink market".
"I am not sure that it is any better or worse that what is currently offered as RTDs, flavoured ciders and other very sweet alcoholic drinks.
"I expect that people will be curious initially and then success will depend on whether it attracts a cult following, and how cheap it is."
It seemed unlikely to appeal to drinkers who like wine or beer, so it was unlikely to displace that market, Connor said.
Lopez admitted the blue wine ran into a few problems when it launched in 2015.
"Gik has always been a bit controversial, as it is a product that you either love or hate," he said.
"Since the beginning, we have been receiving some comments coming from the most traditional part of wine industry — they even said that Gik is a "blasphemy" or a "terrible invention", but they never took action until last summer."
That was when they received a visit from two inspectors who stopped them from selling the wine, Lopez said.
"They alleged that among the current 17 wine varieties, there is not one that covers a product with Gik's characteristics. It is true, as historically there has never been a beverage like Gik, but it was like saying that we didn't exist.
"Finally, and after smart changes in the composition that don't alter the taste nor the colour, we are happily back with Gik still being 100 per cent grape."
Ok, so what does it taste like?
"We could only say that it tastes like Gik, like a revolution in an ancient industry. It may seem obvious, but it has a really unique flavour. It is sweet, fresh and easy to drink," Lopez said.
He admitted that none of the founders were chemical engineers or experienced winemakers, they were designers, musicians, computer engineers and artists.
"How did we do it, then, you may wonder?" he said.
"We had a lot of help, mainly from our university — the University of the Basque Country."
While Gik was not yet available in New Zealand, they were getting lots of messages from people asking when it would be, he said.
"We are working hard to get there as soon as possible, and we are still looking for the perfect distribution partner to do so."
The founders do not make any wines, other then the blue wine, he said.