Thursday 7 July 2016

Harpic? Antifreeze? No – blue wine…

In case you haven’t heard, someone is bringing out blue wine. A white wine, artificially coloured the vivid blue of swimming pools and blue Smarties. The makers say it’s going to be ‘disruptive’. And not in the negative way I last encountered the word ‘disruptive’, in a sentence which also contained the words ‘stop’ and ‘detention’.

The wine is called Gik, clearly not a name aiming at a sophisticated audience, as it sounds worryingly close to a hiccup. ‘Try to forget everything you know about wine,’ says the Gïk team in its marketing. Which probably won’t take its potential customers very long.

But I am not going to jump to any conclusions. Just because it looks like toilet cleaner doesn’t mean it tastes like it. And there are wider issues to consider here.

There’s an argument which says that, if producers want their wine to become a mass-market drink, then there is no reason why it should not be sold to that audience with the same kind of attention-grabbing flavouring, packaging and manipulation as, say, ice cream. There are pure ice creams, with no added flavours, swirls or bits – and then there are the popular ones.

It has been my misfortune to experience some of the less successful experiments with wine. I remember, with particular revulsion, chocolate wine. To say nothing of an Echo Falls white wine spritz in a can, a disgustingly sweet fizzy concoction which was at least honest enough to describe itself not as wine, but as an “aromatised wine product cocktail”

We spent last year reading stories about orange wine which, despite wide publicity, CJ was memorably unable to purchase. But presumably orange wine is not, as Gik is offering, a "creative rebellion", because its colour, although extraordinary, is the result of a natural process. (Just as it’s okay for natural wines to taste of cowpats.) Whereas blue wine…

The very idea upsets the wine purists. Some don’t even believe it merits media coverage. It’s “a vapid, empty story,” moans The Wine Analyst, “that should never find [its] way to serious wine media.” At least that provides leeway for Sediment.

Number one, if someone brought out blue sausages, they would get media coverage. It’s well known that people are instinctively repelled by blue comestibles, because it’s the colour of putrescence. I remember a party at university, where someone confirmed this by putting blue food dye into perfectly edible cream of chicken soup, and we all struggled to swallow it. (And here I am, still considering the consumption of blue products; whereas, just across town, fellow-undergraduate Theresa May was clearly using her time rather more constructively…)

So it’s bound to be interesting if someone tries to sell something people are instinctively programmed to reject. Its major appeal must be as some kind of drinking challenge. Blue wine? As one of my sons used to say, “It looks like a wager to me.”

Number two, be grateful. Because the coverage means that wine has broken into the national consciousness. You should be more concerned if everybody ignored blue wine, just as they’re not particularly interested in, say, blue sugar

However, none of this makes blue wine any more appealing; and needless to say, I will not be serving Gik myself. I would not put any blue drink on my dining table, whether it is After Shock, Curucao or antifreeze. I’m also aware that Gik may not aspire to the dining table, but I’m afraid that is where I drink my wine, and not in a swimming pool

Just for once, it is entirely valid to say that I know, without even tasting it, that this wine is not for me.


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