Filed under Culture
Written by Jo Hombsch
For many, this time of year means one thing – the regular wine-fueled evenings. However, in recent years, there, are just as many with the dreaded hangover as there are those looking for booze-free drinks these days. The market is flooded with options. NON founder Aaron Trotman was one of the first to enter the market, telling En-Route “The sober occasion is one we are starting to see more and more, and will no longer be an afterthought.”
Trotman started NON, a non-alcoholic wine brand, back in 2019, when non-alcoholic wine was just an afterthought. NON takes a new approach to how we think of non-alcoholic wine, with Trotman and his team doing things a little differently over at NON HQ. “At NON, we focus less on what was taken away (the alcohol content), and more on what we can do instead.” So one would say they’re unconventional in their approach, but really what they focus on is creating “A great beverage with great ingredients that can stand alone.”
You started NON back in 2019. Back then non-alcoholic wine was an afterthought for many restaurants. We’re now seeing non-alcoholic wine pairings at top restaurants, pubs with a full page of options and bottle shops with their own non-alcoholic wine section. How did the idea for NON come about?
“The idea for NON was born after my wife and I were making our way through a selection of fine-dining restaurants on our visit to Europe. We experienced pairing foods with non-alcoholic beverages for the first time over there and something about that stuck with me, even after we’d travelled home. I continued to look for these non-alc pairings at restaurants throughout Melbourne and eventually realised you couldn’t buy this type of drink in a bottle – it just wasn’t accessible yet and I wanted to do something to change that.”
The market for no booze/ non-alcoholic drinks has grown in recent years. You launched NON back in 2019, how have you seen the market and offerings change?
“It’s been an interesting one to watch that’s for sure. We went from such a low selection of non-alc options, to a spike in the population preferring to go sober. I think COVID had a large impact on our health and the way we look at our drinking habits. People are drinking less but what they’re drinking is of a more premium nature, and even the younger generation is far more progressive in their decision-making process. Non-alc options are much better now than a few years ago and are absolutely here to stay, especially with the level of innovation across the category, the sober occasion is one we are starting to see more and more, and will no longer be an afterthought.”
I’ve tried my fair share of non-alcoholic wine. Non is a complex, full of flavour non-alcoholic wine. How does NON differ from some others that are a sickly sweet non-alcoholic wine?
“I’ve found there are a few ways you can go when it comes to curating non-alcoholic wine. Sometimes the taste is too much like real wine, whereas other times this sweetness can cut through and ruin the sophistication of the drink. At NON, we focus less on what was taken away (the alcohol content), and more on what we can do instead. We’re much more unconventional in our approach where flavour comes first. We aren’t looking to mock, mimic, or replicate wine or other non-alc options, but instead create a great beverage with great ingredients that can stand alone.”
When developing a NON wine, you work with the same idea as a chef would when developing a dish. Please explain the process.
“Developing a NON beverage is a brutal process. We firstly pull together ingredients we think would be interesting, while challenging what people would normally expect when it comes to flavour combinations. We then move into flavour development, breaking down the ingredients we want to isolate. And then we have an understanding of what cooking technique we will need to prepare the ingredients we’ve chosen to extract maximum flavour. We then conduct up to 50 (sometimes 80) trials to get the right nuance and balance through roasting, cooking, and dehydrating/stewing real food.”
What’s next for NON?
“I see big things on the horizon for NON, our consumers are almost as passionate about the brand as we are. However, you’re going to have to wait for the answer to this one.”
NON1 SALTED RASPBERRY & CHAMOMILE
NON2 CARAMELISED PEAR & KOMBU
NON3 TOASTED CINNAMON & YUZU
NON4 ROAST BEETROOT & SANSHO
NON5 LEMON MARMALADE & HIBISCUS
NON6 TOMATO WATER & BASIL
NON7 STEWED CHERRY & COFFEE
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