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Halal wine anybody?

Halal wine anybody?

Kevser Tabak, a company based in London have created a non-alcoholic wine especially for Muslims. The wine is approved by the Halal Quality Commission, as it contains 0.0% alcohol. Most non-alcoholic wines on the market contain a very small percentage of alcohol but this brand has created a process of extracting wine from grapes and eliminating the alcohol entirely. Their method is highly complicated and secretive as they are in the midst of patenting their special winemaking technique. Managing director Asif Choudhary who is one of the founding partners, says, “Our end goal is to have a high quality product without the alcohol”.

Authentic wine bottles specifically manufactured for wine, are used to bottle this wine and the grapes come from vineyards in France. The grapes used for their white wine- Chardonnay are actually chardonnay grapes, and for the Merlot, merlot grapes are used. The product is authentic but what does it taste like?

The wine has mixed reviews, whilst some people enjoy the taste, others can’t get passed the concept of ‘halal wine’. A non-wine drinker said “I would drink it if everyone around me was having wine.” To many it just seems plain wrong and encourages the drinking of alcoholic wine and imitating western practices. Although alcohol is clearly prohibited in the Quran, there is one verse in Surah 47 that translates as ‘In paradise rivers of wine will flow’, and this is where the company got its inspiration. “It comes down to perception. Don’t look at it as an alcoholic product, because it’s not.”

In the UK, many upmarket and fine dining restaurants are using halal meat and therefore opening up the market to British Muslims, many of who only consume halal meat. Along with the growing demand to eat halal, Asif Choudhary says, “Wine is part of a meal-there’s no point in going to restaurant where the chef has spent six hours preparing a meal and just having a fizzy drink with it. Wine helps you digest your meal and won’t leave you feeling bloated.” Perhaps he has a point, but for the vast majority it’s a case of if you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Perhaps this wine is more suitable for those who enjoy conventional wine but want to give up alcohol. Asif Choudhary says, “We don’t like to talk about it but there are many people addicted to alcohol. We’ve spoken to Muslim reverts who find the hardest thing about becoming Muslim is giving up alcohol. They love it, as our product from start to finish looks, smells and tastes like an alcoholic wine, the only difference is you don’t get intoxicated.”

Pretty impressive talk, but Kevser Tabak hasn’t been that successful in supplying their wine to retailers in the UK, yet. A handful of restaurants offer it on their drinks menu, but you can buy it from their website. They have had better success supplying to weddings and events. ‘‘People spend thousands of pounds on weddings but on the table you see plastic bottles of juice and coke. In this multicultural society you should have something for everyone,” claims Asif, and he is absolutely right. There is definitely a market for de-alcoholised wine; Kevser Tabak has just got to find it.

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