Throughout the history of the wine industry, producers have felt the need to create gimmicks in an effort to separate themselves from their competitors. In some cases, they go down this route because they don’t believe that the wines they’ve created can compare to those created by others. However, some go against the grain in an effort to introduce new ideas into the wine industry. For example, many might have seen the Antinori family’s creation of Tignanello as a gimmick when it first appeared. Yet here we are, over 40 years later, and it’s lauded as one of the best wines that has ever emerged from the company.
Here’s the point. What may seem like a gimmick or attempted money-grab on the part of a producer is often a brand new idea or method that eventually gains popularity.
That brings us to the subject of today’s article. Everyone who has some level of familiarity with the Italian wine industry knows that wine generally comes in one of two varieties – red and white. Sure, you have sparkling wines and rosés that may vary the colour palette a little at times. But the fact remains that these are the two colours that we all most closely associate with wine.
One thing’s for certain. We’ve never considered a blue wine before.
Lebanon’s Blue Wines
There have been rumblings about the creation of blue wines for several years now. A few Spanish producers have given the gimmick a crack over the last few years, but it’s never really caught on. People generally don’t seem to want to accept the possibility of a wine being any colour other than those that they’re used to.
But that may change thanks to a brand new wine that comes from Lebanon.
Located in the Middle East, Lebanon has a much deeper history with wine that you may believe. Though it’s not one of the powerhouses of the modern wine industry, the country does have a healthy and thriving wine industry of its own. Moreover, recent discoveries have shown that Lebanon may have played host to a rudimentary wine industry several thousand years ago.
As a result, it should not be a surprise that the country may have ushered forth a new revolution in the world of wine.
That revolution stems from a man named Piter Abi Unes.
Who is Piter Abi Unes?
A surgeon by day, Piter Abi Unes has always had a passion for the wine industry. After achieving success in his chosen field, Unes made the decision to pursue this passion with the founding of Chateau Wadih.
Located among the mountains of Lebanon, the winery benefits from an ideal climate and the interesting terroir that only a mountainous region can provide.
But that’s all fairly standard for the wine industry. Producers have set up in hilly and mountainous regions for many years because of the benefits that they provide.
What is different about Unes’ wines is the colour.
Unes has helped to pioneer a brand new winemaking technique that produces a wine that has a crystalline blue colouring.
Now, the initial assumption would be that he has found some sort of special grape that produces a colour unlike any that we’ve seen in the industry before. But that’s not the case at all. Unes uses grapes that are already in use in an array of wines that come from the region. The difference, he says, comes in how he manipulates a substance called Anthocyan, which is found in the skin of black grapes.
According to Unes, this substance allows a black grape to exhibit seven different colours, if you know how to manipulate it properly.
As he puts it: “If you add this substance to the wine from white grapes, you get a blue wine. I make dry blue and dessert wine. So you can choose according to your taste.”
That’s immediate good news for anybody who may have an interest in giving blue wines a try. Unes doesn’t use any foreign chemicals in the production of his wines. It all comes down to how he manipulates the colours inherent in the skins of his grapes.
Unes also has a few ideas in mind to ensure his wines don’t escape anybody’s attentions. He’s noted the influx of Italian wines and wines from other countries into Lebanon. He also knows that he will need to do something special to compete against those imports.
The blue colouring of the wine is just the beginning of his plan to stand out. Unes has also made the decision to slash the price of his wines in order to gain a foothold in his domestic market. The aim is to build a customer base that may buy the wine based on the gimmick, but will stick with it for its quality.
Moreover, he aims to export the wine to other countries. In fact, he aims to release the first batch of his special blue wine in Italy during the summer of 2018. Who knows? Italians may soon be able to buy this blue wine from their own suppliers.
What Does This Mean for Italian Wine?
As mentioned, many ideas that seem like gimmicks at first eventually gain wide acceptance in the wine industry.
Is blue wine one of those ideas?
We’re not so sure. At the end of the day, wines gain popularity because of their quality, rather than their colour. Take the previously mentioned Tignanello as an example. The wine may have broken all of the rules. But it was the sheer quality on display that allowed the Super Tuscans to stick around once the shock value wore off.
Will the blue wines coming from the Lebanon have the same longevity? We’re not so sure. In the end, it all comes down to the quality, rather than the colour.
One things for sure. We’ll be sticking with our amazing Italian wines for now. However, we’ll also be sure to give a blue wine a try, when one appears in Italy. But we’ll judge it based on the quality of the wine, rather than the novelty factor attached to the drink.