Giesen invests millions in alcohol-removal technology

New Zealand wine company Giesen Group has announced it is investing more than a million dollars in spinning cone technology to further refine its 0% wine ranges.

New Giesen Pinot Gris and Rosé blends are set for release in Australia this September, following the sell-out success of the flagship Sauvignon Blanc. The Group also launched Ara Zero Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in September 2020, which is sold via independent retailers and on-premise venues. 

“The innovative spinning cone technology – also popular in perfume-making – gently distils the wine into three layers: aroma, alcohol, and body,” explained Giesen Group Chief Winemaker Duncan Shouler.

“Once we’ve carefully collected the delicate aroma, we recombine it with the body of the wine and conduct vigorous taste-testing to ensure the final product has great mouth-feel and flavour. It’s trickier than it sounds, but our winemakers have done the hard yards to make sure that drinking it will be easy.”

The additional investment in no-alcohol winemaking comes in response to the growing demand for the category, with Wine Intelligence research showing that Australians have a higher intent to purchase low and no alcohol products compared to the UK, US and Canada.  Younger consumers are also more likely to purchase a non-alcoholic wine, with three out of 10 consumers aged between 18 to 34 basing their purchase on health and wellbeing

Despite the growing market, the main barrier for consumers buying lower alcohol wines is the perception they are ‘not really wine’a belief held by around a third of the wine-drinking population. 

As a pioneer in the sector – having launched the world’s first alcohol-removed New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Giesen 0%, in February 2020 – Giesen hopes to debunk some of the myths surrounding the category.

“To ensure we create the best 0% wines in market, we go through the entire winemaking process just as we would for a full-strength wine – from growing grapes for a year in the vineyard, to picking and processing the wine in the winery,” said Shouler. “So to say that it is ‘not really wine’ is untrue in every sense.

“To make 0% we include the additional process of putting our full-strength wine through spinning cone distillation to gently remove the alcohol component. Making 0% alcohol is actually more expensive to produce compared to its full-strength counterpart and it is our absolute goal to produce 0% wines that actually taste like wine and not like grape juice, and with as low calories as possible.”

Shouler (above) added that investment in Gisen’s own specialised spinning cone will not only ensure a more plentiful supply across both its no-alcohol brands, but will further improve on taste, quality and innovation.

“Having our own spinning cone allows us to increase production levels and really help drive quality,” he said. “Firstly, we can be experimental and continually improve our 0% alcohol wine offerings, to meet consumer taste profiles. I would say that now we are seeing better and better alcohol-removed wines every time we produce them.

“Another key element to our 0% alcohol wines is ensuring they’re made fresh, blended fresh and bottled fresh. Having our own unit means we can operate on a very tight timeline, which lets us capture aroma in the bottle and produce wines with more varietal character.”

Shouler believes education and awareness are the keys to success in this sector. He points out, for example, that the alcohol isn’t replaced with sugar in Giesen’s 0% alcohol wines. There are also just 16 calories per 125ml glass (or 13 calories per 100ml glass) – 80% fewer calories than a full-strength 12.5% alcohol wine.

As for why no or low alcoholic wine is the same price as alcoholic wine, he said: “Making 0% alcohol is actually more expensive to produce compared to its full-strength counterpart. To produce 0% wines that taste like wine and not like grape juice, we go through the same winemaking process as full-strength wine and then add the spinning cone distillation process to remove the alcohol.  This technology is expensive but necessary to create a quality end product.”

Giesen Group is also exploring ways to utilise the alcohol spun out of Sauvignon Blanc wine. It expects to launch the revolutionary, first-of-its-kind product later this year. 

Non-alcoholic drinks sales skyrocket in Australia

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