I've dedicated 2016 to learning more about wines from Spain. I've been immersed in wines like Albariño, Garnacha and Cava for the past several months, but there's one wine coming out of Spain I won't be seeking out (though I will try it.)
Gïk is a new wine coming out of Spain. It's sweet, and sweet wine is nothing new. But it's also blue. That's definitely new. Why blue? To artfully change how wine is perceived.
When I'm sent a wine to sample, I usually get a technical sheet. The sheet gives the specifics about the wine: alcohol content, grape varietals, growing region, terroir description, aging information, detailed tasting notes and maybe some info about the winery and some pairing suggestions.
The creators of Gïk don't care about that information. Their focus is "young people without any wine tradition" who simply want to try something new. They've created an anti-technical sheet [PDF] that asks drinkers to forget everything they know about wine. Don't worry about the wine region. Ignore the sommelier's tasting notes. Throw out wine traditions. They're anti-technical sheet gives this type of vague information:
- What varietals of grapes go into Gïk? Different varieties of red and white.
- What regions and vineyards were the grapes grown in? Various vineyards all over Spain. They'll work with the vineyards if they both "respect the environment" and Gïk's aim "to disrupt."
- How is it aged? It's not.
- Tasting notes? It smells like wine and ripe fruit. It tastes like a "sudden, cheerful sweet burst" and it's slightly acidic.
- Pairing suggestions? Sushi, Nachos, Tzatziki sauce, Pasta Carbonara, Smoked Salmon. In other words, pretty much anything.
This will drive some people in the wine world absolutely nuts. I've already seen it on various wine pages I visit on Facebook. It's being called a marketing gimmick (and of course it's a marketing gimmick), unappetizing, and not real wine. Many people are asking, "Why?"
Maybe the question should be, 'Why not?'
There can be a lot of rules when it comes to wine. Some people, including me, care about knowing those rules even if we choose to break them. Others could care less; they just want to to drink what they like. They don't want to be told what they should like, or worse, be told they're wrong about what they like. I understand that.
It's clear by the company's marketing materials and social media posts that they're going after millennials, who are now drinking more wine than baby boomers or Gen Xers. In 2015, millennials consumed 42 percent of all wine in the U.S. Boomers drank 30 percent and Gen Xers drank only 20 percent, according to Fortune. And Gïk's Instagram is definitely geared toward the younger generation.
Gïk is offering something to all of those who don't want to be told what to their opinion should be. The people behind the brand say they want to change something. They aren't winemakers; they're creators. They choose wine as their "battlefield" because it's the "most traditional and closed-minded industry out there."
Closed-minded? Yes. The wine world can be very close-minded. And whether the blue wine is a passing trend or something that will stand the test of time, those closed minds probably aren't going to be the ones who influence Gïk's success. It's the opinion of everyday wine drinkers, particularly millennials, who will make or break this blue wine.
And, speaking of the blue, I imagine I would have a harsher opinion of the wine if the hue was created by artificial food dye. It's not.
Gïk is produced through a pigmentation process. Firstly a base is created from a mixture of red and white grapes, which is then added to two organic pigments; indigo and anthocyanin – which comes from the very skin of the grapes used to make wine.
The answer to "Why?" is because they wanted to and they could. They're creative people doing something creative. I don't have to be thrilled about their end product, although I'm intrigued enough to try it if it's offered. But I can admire their innovation and their commitment to creating this untraditional wine naturally.
Gïk will be available sometime this summer, and the company is taking pre-orders now on bluewine.us.
Update: Anyone in the U.S. who pre-ordered Gïk in 2016 has had to wait a year to get a bottle of the blue wine. Eater reports that legal difficulties due to laws in Spain's Basque region that say only red or white wine can be sold in the local market. Gïk is made from 100 percent grapes and died with organic pigments, so while it's definitely wine, it didn't technically fit the definition of wine that were permitted to be sold. In order to sell the wine legally, it had to be relabeled as 99 percent wine and 1 percent grape must. Now that all the regulatory issues have been solved, the wine will begin to ship to the U.S, targeting New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Washington state first.
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Gïk had to stop production for two months after someone anonymously tipped off the Spanish Wine Federation that blue wine was being sold and shipped — something that's not allowed under the European Unions oenological regulations that say that if something is some specifically authorized it is considered illegal. Since blue is not a color specifically authorized for wine, blue wine cannot be sold as wine.
When it finally hits the U.S. shelves sometime this fall, however, it can be labeled as blue wine because our wine labeling regulations and laws are different. I'm still intrigued by this wine, and I'm still open to trying it if I come across it. Since New Jersey is one of the targeted markets, I may have the chance to give a try.
This story was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated with more recent information.