RIBERA DEL DUERO (Press release) Many studies point to the benefits of wine: it contains vitamins, antioxidants, necessary minerals - at some point it was said that a glass a day (a glass, dear, not a bottle) kept the doctor away. But its alcoholic content means it is not necessarily for everyone. The answer to that particular conundrum is in removing the alcoholic content. There have been a small number of attempts at making alcohol-free wine palatable, most of them unsuccessful possibly because the R&D involved is costly, which gets passed down to the customer. Then along came the Matarromera Group, which has wineries all along the Duero River in Castilla y León. The group invests 30% of its billing back into R&D and it was this that decided them to become pioneers in what much marketing research showed is a significant niche in the wine trade. This was particularly so following the enormous success first of 'sin' (without) beer and then 0/0 (zero/zero) beer.>>>R&D got into gear in 2004. The result is a product called EminaZero, which includes red, white, rosé and 'spumanti' wines. It is the very first of its kind in the world to be commercialised as an absolutely alcohol-free wine - and no calories, either.>>>
The President of the Matarromera Group, Carlos Moro, presented the new product, saying that it is aimed at "everybody from one to a hundred years old." There is nothing like it, he added.
EminaZero is the result of an investment of €20 million. The company obtained a patent for the extraction of poliphenols, which needed some €7 million, at the R&D centre in Valbuena de Duero, Valladolid.
Three phases for deconstruction
The wine had to be 'deconstructed', a complex three-phase process that begins with the bodega's better wines. The aroma is removed first, separating the volatile elements from the liquid. These are then refrigerated.
The next phase is removing the alcohol, which is itself divided into two parts that involve the removal of ethil alcohol of 60º from the aroma-less to obtain an alcohol-free wine.
Finally, the aroma must be returned to the wine. Called 'organoleptic reconstitution' the process results in a fully aromatic wine with the properties of the original wine, plus some nutritional additives.
The process "minimizes the risk of losing the aromatic qualities of the wine," says Carlos Moro. The president ads that the process has been carried out with the approval of the European Union, and thus opens the door to the wines being sold throughout Europe, and further afield.
Is it necessary?
The reason it has taken much longer for wines to be put through the 'de-alcoholising' process is that it has been necessary to adapt the procedure to a variety of grades of wine without losing their properties. This, too, had to be applied to all four types of wine.
Carlos Moro assures us that EminaZero is "100% wine" because "the grape becomes xxxxxMOSTOxxxxxx and it is this that is fermented" in the wine-making process. It retains the wine's original colour, as well as its aroma, plus the taste (slightly sweeter than the original, we're told by experts) and its poliphenols. In fact the wine's content of these last is about the same as two cups of tea or an apple. Poliphenols are what give wine its deoxidant qualities.
So far, sales in the international market include the USA, China, the Near East and Central Asia. But the company is carrying out a series of marketing strategies such as that for Northern climes, where the benefit factor focuses on health, while in Arab countries, the emphasis is on the wines as a substitute for alcohol.
Plans at Matarromera include sales in France and Italy, markets that compete side by side with Spain. These, says the company President, are "very complex" markets because of a well-established wine culture. "Their own classic concept of wine has prevented them from them being the pioneers in the search for alcohol-free wine," adds Moro.