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Blue Wine may leave skeptics blue in the face

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A glass of Vindigo, the blue wine

A glass of Vindigo, Mediterranean chardonnay wine, is seen at a beachfront restaurant in Sete, France, August 9, 2018. The wine is filtered through a pulp of red grape skins which contain a natural pigment, anthocyanin, and gives the wine its blue colour. REUTERS/Antony Paone

The blue wine craze is back with a vengenace. It last reared its ugly head in 2015 when the Spanish wine Gik was launched. Gik was found to have derived its colour from anthocyanin and indigo carmine (E132) colorants. However, under the rules of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, colorants are banned from wine and products containing them have to be labelled as a “wine-based” drink. Having initially labelled itself as a ‘blue wine’, Gik is now labelled as an alcoholic drink based on wine (99%) and wine must (1%).

But French entrepreneur René Le Bail apparently learned something from the Gik experience—that blue wine captures people’s imaginations—and so he set out to create a blue wine that his country might be willing to embrace. The new wine is called Vindigo. It begins its life as a Chardonnay before being filtered through the pulp of red grape skins where pigments known as anthocyanins (as in the Gik wine) give the 100-percent natural wine its blue color. It does not use colorants though.

René Le Bail launched Vindigo in the southern French port city of Sète with around 35,000 bottles on sale. He says sales of the sweet, mild wine that is selling for as little as $14 have already surpassed his forecasts. According to Le Bail the wine boasts aromas of cherry, blackberry and passion fruit, and pairs well with seafood and oysters.

Reuters reports that the Mediterranean resort’s restaurants and beach bars, holidaymakers and local residents have drunk their way through the first 2,000-bottle consignment of the turquoise-colored chardonnay. “It reminds me of something, I’m not sure which fruit but it makes me think of, I don’t know, maybe sweets from my childhood,” said a diner who identified himself as Frederic. “I love the color, it’s perfect for the summer. It brings happiness, joy, I really like it,” said Nora, a tourist from Singapore while drinking in a beachfront restaurant.

While he has received requests for the wine from Britain, China, Indonesia, Italy and Belgium, the Frenchman is focused on his homeland. He plans to bring the blue wine to the heart of wine country, Bordeaux, and eventually he wants to convince a vineyard to help him produce the wine entirely on French soil! It’ll be interesting to see what happens next especially since some believe that is not scientifically possible to have blue wine.

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