ALTINA is an innovative brand dedicated purely to producing the very best non-alcoholic drinks for you. We're not a big name winemaker trying to jump on a trend, simply mixing alcohol -removed wine with sugars or grape juice. We're a super-passionate, family run business that have taken a whole new approach to making non-alc. wines. The results have been incredible (see our reviews and awards for proof, or try them for yourself!).
Here's our scientist, Christina (it's me, haha, I don't have someone else writing my website copy) taking us through how she develops our drinks.
Before I get started in the lab developing a drink, I put pen to paper and think of the concept. Inspiration for this part comes from many places - an incredible botanical ingredient, and experience, and feedback from you, our community!
Then it's time to choose our base wine and the style of wine to create. For most of our wines, we use a premium, de-alcoholised Australian wine as the base. We work with our winemaking partners to produce a premium alcoholic wine (including all of the regular steps, from picking grapes, to fermenting them).
Then we use the spinning cone method to gently remove the alcohol, a method that gently distils off the alcohol, without using heat (so that most of those complex flavour notes stay in tact). You can see less than a quarter the spinning cone in the header image above - it's a pretty big piece of equipment!
This method also doesn't dilute the wine with water as it removes the alcohol, and doesn't introduce any chemicals or use any harsh additives. We're able to remove the alcohol from over 18,000L of wine in about an hour!
We remove almost all of the alcohol using this method (we get it to less than 0.02%ABV - less alcohol than in a ripe banana!!).
At this stage, the wine does taste pretty average if we're totally honest. It lacks any of the "mouthfeel" you'd expect from a wine, and is pretty acidic. It has a little bit of complexity, and a hint of the varietal characteristics of the original wine.
Now, most non-alc. winemakers add either sugar or grape juice concentrate to the base wine. This helps to give some "weight" to the palate and improve the mouthfeel, and also masks that vinegar-y acidity. This is the traditional approach to non-alc winemaking, and can often result in either vinegar-y, or sickly sweet non-alc. wines, and they're often lacking complexity and depth.
Luckily for you, I've worked hard to innovate in this space to turn this not-so-delicious wine base into something delicious. It's this next part where the real magic happens, when we get blending with beautiful botanicals.
We create extracts from beautiful plant ingredients, to highlight and enhance the flavours of the base wine, and create complexity and depth.
While I can't share exactly how we make our extracts, I can tell you, it sure was a challenge to come up with them!
You see, normally alcohol is used to extract flavours (it's an excellent solvent). It does a great job at capturing those volatile aromas (the beautiful, clean "essence" of the plant), which are then able to be easily separated from the rest of the (less desirable) components. Water? No so great at extracting flavours (have you ever left a teabag in your cup for too long? Yep, that's what water does).
Each of our wines has a hero Native Australian botanical, which complements the base wine, and a series of other botanical extracts.
The blend of extracts needs to work together perfectly to create balance, and the right flavour profile. This is usually achieved by testing different amounts of each component, lots of tweaks and way too much tasting.
I think about the top notes - the smell and that first taste; the mid notes - the depth and mouthfeel as you swallow; and the end notes - that lingering flavour.
And because of the way the carefully selected botanicals interact with the receptors on your tongue, you get a wonderful complexity develop as you sip, so the first taste is different to the last sip. This is one of the things I love the most about our drinks - it replicates the experience of wine in that way.
Once we've blended the base wine and the botanicals, we use a series of filters to remove any impurities, fill the bottles or cans, and go though our quality controls, ready for you to enjoy.