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What the Hell Is Blue Wine?

It’s all the rage in Spain

There’s red wine, white wine, even pink wine. But now thanks to six young Spanish entrepreneurs, in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and Azti Tecnalia (the food research department of the Basque Government), blue wine—which targets millennial drinkers—is about to hit European markets.

Created by Iñigo Alday, Imanol López, Jen Besga, Gorka Maiztegi, Aritz López, and Taig Mac Marthy in Spain's Basque region, Gik—which fits into the chilled, sweet white wine category—is made from an undisclosed blend of red and white grapes predominantly sourced from vineyards in La Rioja, Zaragoza, León (all located about three hours north of Madrid), and Castilla-La Mancha (about two hours south of Madrid). The 11.5 percent ABV juice is hued neon blue with anthocyanin (a pigment found in grape skin) and indigo (a dye extracted from the Isatis tinctoria plant), and a non-caloric sweetener is added as well. A 750ml bottle retails for 10 euros, or about $11 USD.

After two years of research and development, Gik soft launched last year in Spain when the wine was sold via the company’s website. But in the next couple of months, Gik will expand retail sales to France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany. And after that, founders are eyeing the U.S.

Image courtesy of Gik

Co-founder Aritz López explains that neither he nor his partners had prior winemaking experience, but that they "wanted to create something really innovative." The team collectively felt that Spain’s wine industry was "missing a little revolution." He continues, "We were raised in a country with a strong wine culture, but wine has always been a beverage put on a pedestal. So we thought about how it would be to have real people making wine for real people, not a wine made by experts to pseudo-connoisseurs."

The blue inspiration came from Blue Ocean Strategy, a book written by W. Chan Kim, a Korean-born business theorist. "He tells about red oceans in his book, representing business markets saturated by specialists (sharks) who fight for the same variables and for a reduced number of clients (fish), and end up in water turned red. And how it’s necessary to revert this, by innovating and creating new variables, back to blue. This seemed poetic for us to turn a traditionally red beverage into a blue one," López states.

According to him, blue also represents "movement, innovation, fluidity, change, and infinity."  Ultimately, he and partners are looking to tap into a new generation of imbibers who seek a unique  wine experience.  While many wineries provide tech sheets (that list varietal details, tasting notes, and vineyard specifics) to accompany bottles, Gik’s founders went in another direction. On their website, they explain the lack of tech sheet:

We do not believe in wine tasting rules and we don’t think that anybody should need to study the bible of enology to enjoy a glass of wine. That is why we made an anti-technical sheet.

Suggested pairings with the sweet blue wine include sushi, nachos with guacamole, pasta carbonara, and smoked salmon, in addition to music by James Blake, Alt J, and Minus the Bear.

The Proper Glassware for Wine