Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and now… alcohol-free wine! For the first time in Alsace, a producer has just launched not one but two beverages below 0.5 degrees of alcohol. The Ribeauvillé cellar marketed them in the last week of December. Two RibO, a name chosen in reference to the city of Haut-Rhin and with a low alcoholic content, are available for sale: a still wine and a sparkling wine.
“We don’t stop selling them”, welcomes Yves Baltenweck. The president of the cooperative is at the origin of this innovation. “Not alone, huh, but we had been discussing it with my export salesman for three or four years. He told me about a big demand in the Nordic countries and in Germany in particular. Except that what existed did not please us. It looked more like fruit juice or sparkling wine for children! »
The producers groped, tasted and tested a lot in order to arrive at the result. “We wanted to start with a dry wine,” explains Evelyne Bléger-Cognac, the winery’s oenologist. This is why the choice of grape varieties finally fell on sylvaner and muscat for still wine, against only muscat for sparkling. All from the 2020 vintage.
13,000 bottles ready in half a day
And then, how do you make dealcoholized wine? The operation was not performed in France, but across the Rhine where the practice is common. “You need a very special distillation device, a kind of big still,” continues the specialist. We brought our wine there, vinified the same way as all the others, and it was only afterwards that the process changed. »
“In other words, the wine is put under pressure and the temperature is raised to 28°C so that the alcohol evaporates”, continues Yves Baltenweck. “There is 16 to 17% loss and afterwards, we reintroduce 0.5 degrees of alcohol and aromas. It gives structure. For the sparkling, we put more gas. It’s all going very fast! Our 13,000 bottles, 6,500 of each, were ready in the morning. »
“It’s surprising at first”
Since then, “at least 20%” of the total have already found takers. “Only yesterday, all the visitors of the day bought some,” says the oenologist, quite proud of the result. “I had tasted alcohol-free wine in the 1990s in Dijon and it was particularly bad! There, we may not have the structuring effect of alcohol, but there are aromas of wine. We feel more acidity, less sugar. »
“It’s surprising at first, of course, but the more you taste it, the more you like it”, continues its president, referring to “a sympathetic balance”. He is already imagining all the possible outlets for his novelty, especially in the middle of “Dry January”… “There is already a clientele and we can also think of pregnant women, people who can no longer drink alcohol. We’ll see what happens. It’s a trial run but I hope we’ll produce 30,000 bottles next year! »