Feeling wine-ish

It was inevitable: the health-promoting ingredients of wine will soon be available for sale in a dried, powdered form. No glass or corkscrew needed.

Equally inevitable, I suppose, is “diet” wine: delivering the pleasures we expect from a standard white, red or rosé, but to a lesser extent.

When I saw the recent news story previewing nutritional supplement Vinia, my first thought (why didn’t I think of that?) was followed by a second thought: oh, a funless way to consume something I associate with pleasure.


Vinia, the first commercial offering from Israeli biotech firm BioHarvest Ltd., is a resveratrol-rich, non-alcoholic powder made from red grape cells. It’s due to come to market in September, packaged in single-serve envelopes.

(Interesting side note: BioHarvest, founded in 2007 as Fruitura Bioscience Ltd., announced in January it is relocating its R&D operation from Tel Aviv to Albany, NY. The company hopes to produce an array of “superfoods” made from its patented method for growing fruit cell cultures.)

I’ve reacted to lower-cal, low-alcohol wine with similar disinterest. “Lite” wine can be produced naturally, by harvesting the grapes earlier than normal (when sugar levels are low) and/or unnaturally, through chemical manipulation of alcohol levels or even the addition of fruit juice.

The results are slightly-reduced calorie counts and as much as 50% lower alcohol levels. For instance, one producer specializing in “diet” wine, Skinny Vine, says its three products, Moscato, Chardonnay and Zinfandel, contain 85 to 95 calories per 5 oz. portion and have alcohol content ranging from 7.3% to 8.5%. California-based Skinny Vine is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, now the object of a takeover tug-of-war. U.S.-based Skinnygirl offers “lite” wines and cocktail mixes, and some mass-market wine producers, particularly in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, have created sidelines of low-alcohol wines.

Apparently there are fans of these “diet” wines, and some of them may taste fine. But, to me, altering wine’s natural form and properties to achieve a secondary purpose diminishes wine’s essence.

We justify our enjoyment of the things we ingest by finding reasons they are good for us. Can it be okay not to have a reason?


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