Exclusive offer: 1/20/2023 — The most incredible non-alcoholic beverages we’ve ever experienced

Special pricing available until Monday, 1/23/2023, at 3 pm or as inventory lasts.

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Hi everyone –

First off, MANY THANKS for the great response to last week’s “Attack of the Jasons” offer. That was a fun one to put together, and it represents some of my favorite wines from two favorite producers. I’m very happy that so many of you now have some Tablas Creek and The Eyrie Vineyards in your hands.

This weekend we offer … you might not believe this, but it’s true … non-alcoholic beverages. Let me rephrase that. THE MOST INCREDIBLE NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WE’VE EVER HAD.

It may surprise you to hear this, but we are actually fans of Dry January. We did a webinar recently over at The Wine Workshop on the topic, and tasted through a HUGE range of products. You can buy a copy of the Workshop here for only $19, which includes the handouts, follow-up notes, webinar replay, and more. Check it out!

While Angela and I don’t adhere to a “Dry January” we do cut back a bit to cleanse the system after the indulgent holidays. So call it a “Damp January” if you will. 🙂

While researching and planning for the non-alch webinar, we came across some incredible new products that are highlighted below. These are some of the most complex and intriguing beverages I’ve ever had, and that includes 30 years of professional wine tasting.

Let’s get to it!

What we discovered in our research

While prepping for the Dry January webinar, we tasted through about four dozen products. From N/A beer to N/A wine to products such as these that are basically “flavor creation in a bottle.”

What we discovered is that while there are fine examples of de-alcoholized wines out there (Studio Null is the best and is available at Marigold at 3506 Nicollet Avenue South), we found that the process of de-alcoholization stripped essential structure from the beverage and always left us wanting more. Alcohol carries flavor, and when a wine starts with alcohol that is then removed, there is no way to replace the sensation in my opinion.

The alternative to a de-alcoholized beverage has for decades been something sweet and simple. But not anymore.

The process that these beverages go through to come to creation is astronomically complicated, and the results are as mentally satisfying as swirling and sipping a glass of a favorite wine. Dare I say it … at times MORE satisfying. In fact, the night after first trying Muri Yamile, I literally dreamed about the flavors, woke up, and had a bit as the sun rose. You can’t (or shouldn’t) do that with regular wine! 😉

They are also some of the best beverages for food pairing I’ve ever had, as I’ll explain further below.

Murray and loakeim blending of drinks and flavors at the brewery.

The story behind Muri of Copenhagen

The first thing to recognize is that Copenhagen is ground zero for not only some of the best dining in the world, but also some of the most complicated flavor creation you can find. This is due to their modern history of flavor elevation and being home to some of the top restaurants in the world (led by the world famous Noma, which just announced they are closing at the end of 2024).

From the importer’s website (and note, the importer is DeMaison Selections, one of our favorite wine importers):

Founded in 2020 by Murray Paterson, a UK expat living in Copenhagen, Muri is pushing the realm of possibility in non-alcoholic drinks through fermentation, foraging, and blending. Muri is informed and inspired by the gastronomic community in Copenhagen, particularly the city’s expertise in fermentation techniques. Muri Drinks is obsessed with flavor and relentless in its pursuit of a quality beverage that is complex and deeply satisfying, with or without alcohol, and changing perceptions around the no- and low-alcohol space.

Originally from Northern Scotland, Murray left his first career as a corporate analyst to pursue his passion for drinks, beginning with his work with UK cideries and eventually ending up at Empirical Spirits in Copenhagen. Gaining essential experience as a distiller at Empirical, he was inspired by their innovative techniques and beverages that defy categorization. Branching out on his own in 2020, he founded Muri Drinks to bring his blend of traditional and innovative techniques to the world of non-alcoholic beverages. 

Muri Drinks is extremely Copenhagen in its style and approach to drinks. Their method is a natural result of the gastronomic energy in Copenhagen, particularly the city’s accumulated expertise in fermentation. Ioakeim Goulidis, their head of research and production, worked previously in the Noma fermentation lab, soaking in their blend of precision and experimentation. Combined with Murray’s experience at Empirical Spirits, they have spent time at some of the city’s best beverage and fermentation companies, which informs the precision and innovation of their work at Muri Drinks.

Muri crafts naturally non-alcoholic beverages without the aid of dealcoholization —a process that can strip flavor as well as alcohol— or the addition of flavor or coloring agents. Although the beverage is inspired by wine, Murray didn’t want to create a drink that was merely imitating something else. Unlike other no- and low-alcohol brands, which start with a beverage and remove the alcohol from it, Muri is creating something wine-adjacent to “reimagine the wine occasion.” Muri is meant to be drunk when wine would otherwise be offered, so they are bottled in wine bottles to inspire customers to drink them as an aperitif, and especially with food.

Muri is exclusively made with natural ingredients of verified provenance and utilizes ancient techniques to craft their natural, non-alcoholic drinks. Each batch is hand-made in their Copenhagen workshop in limited runs; however, their experience over the years in producing each cuvée means there is also consistency in flavor and quality from one bottling to the next. In the same manner that a Champagne house has a style with its non-vintage bottling, Muri crafts distinct styles with quality and flavor consistency.

https://demaisonselections.com/muri-drinks/

For more on Muri and the incredibly complicated process they go through to make these products, please check out this amazing article on the Anders & Kaitlin website.

A note on pricing

These are not cheap products. Nor should they be. The quality of ingredients and the work that goes into the creation of these beverages is off the charts, and far more complicated than making wine. When you’re literally foraging for perfect ingredients, doing reductions and smoke infusions, and assembling hundreds of test batches before coming up with a recipe, I’m amazed they are not more expensive!

All bottles come with ingredients listed and nutritional information. Something the wine industry should embrace!

Muri “Yamilé”

Non-alcoholic Sparkling Rosé.

Carbonic raspberry and gooseberry, smoked rhubarb, goldenrod, and pink peppercorn kefir. This was the first product we tried from Muri and it literally left us speechless (and that’s no easy to do to me).

From the importer’s website:

Yamilé is an energetic, sparkling rosé cuvée of carbonic raspberry and gooseberry, fermented and smoked rhubarb, goldenrod, and pink peppercorn kefir, named after a Peruvian fermentation expert and Muri friend/collaborator, Yamilé. Made by blending a series of short fermentations, starting with a base of carbonic macerated raspberries (made via tank-pressurized CO2), which provides tart flavors with lots of acidity, and lends the drink a playful bubblegum pink color. Honey is the primary sugar source, which is balanced by gooseberry wine. Lacto-fermented rhubarb is layered next, whereby they smoke the fruit over beechwood for two days, which adds a savory note. Finally, they finish the blend with water kefir macerated with star anise, seven-times-blanched pink peppercorn (a tree nut), and goldenrod flowers. Yamilé is then carbonated to 2.5 bar. Yamilé is nonalcoholic, has no added sulfites, and is pasteurized. No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives.

Flavor Profile – Dry, aromatic, and funky. A nose of overripe golden tomato and red fruit, with a palate of salty smoke and gentle raspberry acidity. Pair with seafood, smoked fish, or creamy desserts.

Usage – Serve chilled in a sparkling or white wine glass. Pair with seafood, smoked fish, or creamy desserts. Once opened, keep refrigerated and consume within two days for maximum freshness. It can be used as a sparkling component in alcoholic or nonalcoholic cocktails. In alcoholic cocktails, it can be used as a sparkling topper for agave-based spirits, gin, or agricole-style rhums.


Style:
 Naturally Fermented Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé 
Ingredients: Carbonic-macerated raspberries, gooseberry, lacto-fermented smoked rhubarb, and pink peppercorn-spiced goldenrod kefir 
Contains: tree nuts (pink peppercorns)
A blend of fermentation styles with foraged, organic teas, fruits, and botanicals
Pasteurized and carbonated
Consume by the “best by” date on the bottle. Best within two days after opening
No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives
Atmospheric Pressure: 2.5 bar
SO2: None added, <10 mg/L total
Nonalcoholic: <0.5% abv

Muri “Passing Clouds”

Naturally fermented non-alcoholic sparkling.

Fermented gooseberries, quince kefir, jasmine tea, woodruff, and geranium kvoss.

From the importer’s website:

Muri’s first release is named after a beloved nightclub in Northeast London. Passing Clouds is a sparkling cuvée of fermented gooseberries, quince kefir, jasmine tea, and woodruff & geranium kvass that blends a series of short fermentations to achieve its fresh, sparkling profile. In restaurants, it’s generally served as an aperitif or an alternative to sparkling or white wine. Passing Clouds is dry but with multiple dimensions of flavors and a vinous funkiness. Complex, floral, and sparkling, it is reminiscent of skin-contact pét-nats. 

Gooseberries are fermented with pichia kluyveri yeast before being enriched with organic gooseberry juice. The gooseberry wine lends acidity, and fermentation by pichia kluyveri yeast provides aromatic floral notes. Quince water kefir lends the fruit-forward palate, and organic, cold-brewed jasmine tea accentuates the aromatics. Finally, caramel malt is inoculated with sourdough starter and then infused with geranium and foraged woodruff to lend autolytic, toasty-brioche notes found in Champagne. The various layers are blended together in stainless steel tanks before being carbonated to 2.5 bar. Passing Clouds is nonalcoholic, has no added sulfites, and is pasteurized. No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives.

Flavor Profile – Dry, complex, and floral; sparkling and refreshing with bright acidity and a heady nose of flowers, honey, and ripe fruits. 

Usage – Serve chilled in a sparkling or white wine glass. Pair it with aromatic dishes, seafood, and white rind cheese. Once opened, keep refrigerated and consume within two days for maximum freshness. It can be used as a sparkling component in alcoholic or nonalcoholic cocktails.


Style: 
Naturally Fermented Non-Alcoholic Sparkling White
Ingredients: Gooseberries, quince kefir, jasmine tea, woodruff & geranium kvass
Contains wheat and gluten
A blend of fermentation styles with foraged, organic teas, fruits, and botanicals
Pasteurized and carbonated
Consume by the “best by” date on the bottle. Best within two days after opening
No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives
Vegan
Atmospheric Pressure: 2.5 bar
SO2: None added, <10 mg/L total
Nonalcoholic: <0.5% abv

Muri “Nuala”

Non-alcoholic red.

Fermented blackcurrant pomace, red currant, oak aged kombucha, sloe berries, chamomile kefir, fig leaf, and pine kvass.

From the importer’s website:

Muri’s glou-glou red wine alternative is named Nuala, which means “beautiful” in Gaelic, as a tribute to Murray Paterson’s Scottish heritage. It is a still, red beverage that blends a series of short fermentations to achieve its bright, gulpable profile. It is a cuvée of fermented blackcurrant piquette, red currant, French oak-aged kombucha, sloe berries, chamomile kefir, and fig leaf & pine kvass. The base of this blend is a blackcurrant piquette (fermented with pichia kluyveri yeast) which provides a structure of juicy fruit and tannins. This base is mixed with red currant juice, water kefir macerated with chamomile flowers, black tea, supernatant kombucha (which uses the liquid byproduct of brewing yeast production),  kvass infused with fig leaves for texture, and pine needles. The drink is then macerated in French oak barrels to add depth and complexity. Nuala is nonalcoholic, has no added sulfites, and is pasteurized. No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives.

Flavor Profile – Nuala shows tart red berries, light tannins, and balanced acidity. Juicy and fresh, it has gentle forest-floor aromatics with tart red fruit, pine, fig, oak, and mushrooms on the nose, bright red acidity, and a gently tannic grip.

Usage – Serve slightly chilled in a wine glass. Pair it with charcuterie, cheese, and ceviche. Once opened, keep refrigerated and consume within two days for maximum freshness. In cocktails, Nuala can be used where traditional alcoholic vermouth is required (such as a nonalcoholic Negroni or Manhattan).


Style:
 Naturally Fermented Non-Alcoholic Red 
Ingredients: Fermented blackcurrant piquette, red currant, French oak-aged kombucha, sloe berries, chamomile kefir, fig leaf & pine kvass. 
Contains wheat and gluten
A blend of fermentations styles with foraged, organic infusions, fruits, and botanicals
Pasteurized and carbonated
Consume by the “best by” date on the bottle. Best within two days after opening
No artificial additives, flavors, or preservatives
Vegan
SO2: None added, <10 mg/L total
Nonalcoholic: <0.5% abv

Buying advice

These products will blow you away, and might (as it did for me) make you question if your go-to beverage should always default to wine.

I’m serious. These are potentially life-changing beverages. With no hangover or night sweats.

In the last few years Angela and I have made a conscious effort to 1) drink less wine for personal health, for we’re not in our twenties anymore (or our thirties or forties for that matter); and 2) explore more flavors with our cooking, specifically asian flavors and especially Thai and Japanese. These beverages fit perfectly into our life.

The other piece of buying advice is to know that you’re going to be sipping these, not gulping them. I think sometimes we forget that it’s okay to sip a non-alcoholic beverage. The complexity of these beverages forces you to slow down and focus.

More things like this in the future

There’s a wave of new top-quality N/A beverages hitting the market and this is a category we will be exploring further, especially focusing on some new local products that have impressed me as much as these have.

Don’t think we’re abandoning wine. Far from it. But I think the quality level of these alternative beverages deserve serious attention and I’m happy to do what I can to tell the world about them.

Thank you, everyone! We couldn’t do this without you!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education


Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Monday at 3:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.

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