We taste tested this new wine-like alcohol-free drink targeting listings at Michelin-starred restaurants

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A drinks startup has launched a new alcohol-free tipple inspired by the flavour, texture and body of wine, and it’s already gained listings with London’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

Nine Elms has been created by Timeless Drinks Ventures, which was originally launched in 2016 by Zoltan Szucs Frakas, a former marketeer for British American Tobacco, and Simon Charles Hamilton Rucker, who holds director positions at Holistic Technologies and management consultancy Grit & Partners, according to Companies House records.

According to a statement from the brand, it is a botanical-flavoured serve made using 20 different flowers, herbs and spices, and the juice of 4 types of berry – which the founders believe allows it to pair with “a broad range of rich, savoury dishes.”

The beverage, which is being distributed by wholesaler Enotria & Coe, has just been launched at Isaac McHale’s east London restaurant The Clove Club, and will also be available at hotly-anticipated hotel The Standard when it opens in London later this month.

James Morgan, who helped Timeless Drinks realise the Nine Elms serve, having previously designed the alcohol-free cocktail menu for Hakkasan Group’s London outposts, said it has “complexity, great acidity, mouth-watering tannins and a good long finish – but most importantly, it’s also delicious!

Although it’s designed to serve as a straight pour and “pairs very well with a wide range of foods,” Morgan also suggested it could be used as an ingredient in low ABV cocktails.

“There is a huge gap in the market for high quality alcohol-free alternatives to the sorts of alcoholic drinks that are traditionally served with food and we believe that Nine Elms, starting with No.18, is the first to properly address this.”

Food and drinks writer Douglas Blyde describes the taste as “emerging from supple, inky, minty complexity, this uplifting concoction first pouts with a full-bodied, berry freshness, then culminates in a reassuringly (and strikingly lengthy) spicy, bitter aftertaste.”

Nine Elms sent us a bottle of the no. 18 to try ourselves and, in the name of journalistic integrity, we decided to taste it and see how it measured up to a typical wine.

 

The Format

The team were impressed with the weight and feel of the bottle, which had all the cues normally associated with a bold red wine such as Malbec from Argentina.

Eleanor Field, who writes for our Wine List Confidential vertical, said she felt customers would be willing to pay more for a non-alcoholic beverage if it sent the right message.

“It reminds me of a Bordeaux bottle,” she said. “I think it feels more worth the money like that than if it was in plastic.”

It’s also worth pointing out that the brand has used a glass Vinolok closure, which have become popular with many wine labels for their premium feel and their ability to let a wine age without fear of cork taint.

 

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