The low and zero alcohol product popularity growth sees no chance of decline. Major brewers are in. Major wineries are in. But while these are plays from existing alcohol industry players, there’s a dedicated element producing quality alcohol free alternatives that are determined to be seen as just more than adult lemonade/cordials. (don’t start me on kombucha.)
Enter Aaron Trotman, who in 2019, after seeing house made tinctures of ‘temperance pairings’ in top European restaurants, set out to recreate the experience at home here in Australia. NON was born. Bringing on brewers and food scientists in the R&D space to develop the range, it quickly found a foothold in Aaron’s hometown of Melbourne. Even through the shitshow of 2020, NON grew and commenced exportation. As of June 2021, NON is now found in New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the USA, along with the original overseas markets of Japan and Singapore.
But how do they stack up to their bold claim that they’re going to “redefine the wine occasion, using the natural world and multidisciplinary techniques to produce the future of drinks?”
NON, 1, Salted Raspberry & Chamomile, (Rosé), NV
Whole raspberries, chamomile, organic cane sugar, Murray River salt, verjus and filtered water. Cerise colour. Intense raspberry and chamomile aromas (as expected). The salt delivers a good balance cut to the ripe strawberries while the florals linger. Easy carbonation while the verjus makes for a tart finish. This seems the most simple of the drinks (which, when you compare the ingredients, it is) and while refreshing and tasty, it doesn’t quite make it as a “wine replacement.”
NON, 3, Toasted Cinnamon & Yuzu, (White), NV
Sri Lankan cinnamon, Japanese yuzu, Valencia oranges, Murray River salt, organic cane sugar, verjus and filtered water. This number is a still product, rather than effervescent. Pale lemon in appearance, the orange and yuzu an intense citrus combination as base while the cinnamon spice floats across as a top note. Almost medium bodied and slippery in texture, the salt and verjus provide a good cut through the citrus and juicy acidity to close. The most “wine-like” out of the range that I’ve sampled: there’s reminiscences of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne.
NON, 7, Stewed Cherry & Coffee, (Red), NV
This powerhouse sparkling is made from sour cherries, cold brew coffee, garam masala, all spice, nutmeg, cascara (which is the dried skins of coffee cherries: I had to look up what it was), pink peppercorn, Murray River salt, verjus and filtered water. Potent, earthy and deep. All at once smelling like a Pinot Noir, hot cross buns, “Black Forest” chocolate block and a curry. The all spice and garam masala dominate the finish: salt tries to keep up appearances but is swamped. This is a big drink, but the effervescence would make it a fine match for richer chocolate based desserts or even coffee braised beef short ribs.
Samples courtesy of NON