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11 most daring innovations in wine

From tongue-twisting flavour combinations to daring designs, the past year has seen all manner of innovations unleashed upon the world of wine.

With producers and entrepreneurs alike seeking out new way to grab the attention of consumers, boundary-pushing concepts have continued to shake up the wine trade.

While some of the following concepts might be nothing more than a flash in the pan marketing gimmick, others could just have the potential to catch on.

Scroll through to check out some of the most daring wine innovations of the past year…

Luc Belaire’s lumiescent label / William Fèvre Hipster Chablis 2013

Packaging and design is one area where wine brands can work to stand out from the crowd creating eye-catching labels that can turn a brand into a household name. However some push convention further than others.

Earlier this year Luc Belaire launched a limited edition rosé featuring a light-up label as part of its signature “black bottle” lineup. The label, which lights up thanks to a small battery connected to it, is similar to the efforts of Chablis producer William Fèvre, who released a limited edition glow-in-the-dark bottle earlier this year aimed at “hipsters” in a bid to attract younger consumers to the brand. Illustrated with ultraviolet ink, the bottle glows under UV lighting revealing a graffiti-style design and is aimed squarely at clubbers and partygoers. The bottle also features a QR code on the back that links to a 360° animation and a level indicator allowing clubbers to monitor how much of the wine they have drunk.

First female-only wine list launched

Outrageous or ingenious, this concept invites plenty of debate. Late last year a wine list composed exclusively of wines made by female winemakers was launched at the London Dim Sum restaurant, Courtesan. Championing the female winemaker, the list was compiled with the help of UK wine suppliers Enotria and Matthew Clark to highlight the increasingly important role women are playing in the wine world at every level, from winemaker to estate owner.

Among the wines on the list are Yealands Viognier 2012 made by Tamra Washington, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon made by Genevieve Janssens and Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc made by Cecilia Torres. The wines were specifically selected to match with the restaurant’s dim sum offering.

Multi-sensory dining

“Sound of the Sea” at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, where diners listen to a recording of the ocean while eating the seafood dish to enhance the overall flavour experience. Photo credit: Star Chefs

Last year Professor Charles Spence, of Oxford University, launched a study in “multi-sensory food perception” concluding that that high-pitched music enhances the flavour of sweet and sour foods, while low-pitched sounds enhances bitter flavours. The concept of using sounds to influence taste perception has not been lost on restaurants with multi-sensory dining expected to take off this year. 

Chef Heston Blumenthal has long pioneered the idea, as proven by his “Sound of the Sea” dish at The Fact Duck, where diners are given a recording of the ocean to listen to while eating the seafood dish to enhance the overall experience.

Meanwhile, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain collaborated with musician Zubin Mehta and artist Franc Aleu in 2013 to create a 12-course “culinary opera” with the lighting, sound, imagery and temperature shifting with each course on the tasting menu to enhance the appreciation of the individual dishes.

Wine in a paint can

A Lithuanian advertising agency launched this innovative advert for a red wine housed in a paint can in April, playing on the fact that it stains your teeth.

McCann Vilnius creates a limited edition wine packaging design each year to coincide with the release of the latest vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, releasing Couleur Nouveau in a purple paint tin in 2014. The packaging features a colour chart on the back of the can indicating the colour your teeth will turn depending on how many glasses of wine you drink.

Wine rave club night

Thought to be the first of its kind in the world, two LA sommeliers launched a wine rave club night in a downtown LA club last month to encourage revellers to drink wine rather than spirits while they rave. Adam Vourvoulis, former wine director of Trois Mec, and Maxwell Leer, of Bestia, hosted their inaugural wine rave at the Honeycut club in LA noting: “Wine rave is a state of mind. Stop swirling. Derobe. Feel a stranger. Listen. Laugh and have fun. Wine rave”.

At the event, wine shots were served in place of spirits shooters, with only wines rated 98 points or above by the sommeliers making it into the shot glasses. Also on pour were wine-based cocktails designed to glow under ultra violet light and bottled cocktails at US$30 a pop. Its aim is to attract a new generation of consumers to wine.

Zipz single serve wine glasses

Single serve wine brand Zipz secured a record $2.5m in funding on the US equivalent of Dragon’s Den, ABC’s Shark Tank, last year. Founded by Andrew McMurray, vice president of Zachys Wine & Liquor in New York, and American entrepreneur J. Henry Scott, it was the largest sum ever to be offered in the history of the show with investor Kevin O’Leary offering the pair $2.5m for a 10% stake in the company. Launched in April, Zipz is a patent-protected single-serve recyclable container shaped like a wine glass and designed for outdoor drinking occasions like picnics. The range includes a Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Coffee-flavoured wine in a can

Perhaps an acquired taste, the world’s first coffee-flavoured wine went on sale in June in the US featuring a Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino. Aiming to “combine the world’s most popular day drink with the world’s most popular night drink”, both of the coffee-flavoured wines are just 6% abv. According to its makers, Cabernet Coffee Espresso, made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and espresso is “rich” in flavour with “a hint of chocolate”, while Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino, which blends Chardonnay grapes and cappuccino, is “smooth” with vanilla notes.

Wine for pregnant womean

Pregnant women may not be the most obvious target market for the drinks industry, but that hasn’t stopped one entrepreneur from creating a range of sparkling “wine” aimed at encouraging pregnant women to “pop the cork”.

Founded by North Carolina-based former recruitment consultant Carrie Marvin, the 9Months brand is based on her “not-so-crazy-idea that pregnant women like feeling part of the celebration, too!”

The non-alcoholic sparkling drink is made from grapes grown in South Australia, whose juice is then kept at 0°C to prevent fermentation before being filtered, pasteurised and carbonated. The current range features a red blend and a white made from Muscat, both carrying a retail price of $16.50 (£11) per bottle and packaged to look like other sparkling wine products.

Coupe Stack

Looking to add a dash of Gatsby-esque glamour to your dinner parties? Then look no further than Coupe Stack – a set of eight glasses that rest on the flat base of each glass below.

Designed by Barnaby Macaulay, the clever invention was inspired by a family heirloom given to his great-grandfather by the Maharaja of West Bengal.

Each of its six glasses has a ledge inside it to ensure safe stacking. When Champagne, Prosecco or your fizz of choice is poured into the top glass, it flows down from glass to glass creating a sparking wine waterfall, with a 75cl bottle of bubbles filling six glasses.

Kate Moss’s left breast Champagne coupe

The news that English supermodel Kate Moss’s left breast had been immortalised in a Champagne coupe designed by painter Lucian Freud’s daughter sent the web into a spin late last year. A masterclass in how to secure press coverage for your product, it was one of the most read stories on our website of 2014.

Taking Marie Antoinette as her inspiration, whose left breast was said to have served as the model for the first Champagne coupe in the late-18th century, British artist Jane McAdam Freud crafted the coupe from a mould of Moss’s left breast. The glass has an elongated, slender stem, while the outside of the bowl features an intricate Art Deco-inspired pattern and the base bears the model’s signature. McAdam Freud was commissioned by 34 Restaurant in London’s Mayfair to create the coupe in honour of Moss’s 40thbirthday and to mark her 25-year milestone in the fashion business. Sold with bottles of Dom Pérignon’s 1995 Oenothèque, the coupes cost £2,123.

Laithwaites insect and wine matching guide

Taking the prize for perhaps the most trailblazing innovation of the year was UK wine merchant Laithwaite’s, who took the ever-growing trend for food and wine pairing to a whole other level with the launch of the world’s first guide to wine and insect matching. The guide includes ten different wine and critter pairings, including mealworms with Viognier, locusts with Moscatel and crickets with Albariño. Commonly eaten in parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa, certain insects are being touted as the superfood of the future due to their high protein content. Will it catch on? Only time will tell.

Mealworms – Commonly enjoyed as a taco topping or standalone snack. Match their nutty taste and light, crunchy texture with a crisp Clare Valley Viognier wine that has just the right combination of fruit and richness (Prospector’s Riesling Viognier 2013, Clare Valley, £9.99).

Zebra tarantula – The body and legs have slightly different flavours, although both taste similar to fish. Tarantulas are normally eaten deep fried, so think cod and chips. A lively full-bodied Chardonnay will stand up to the complex fishy flavours of the Tarantula. (Collovray & Terrier Chardonnay 2013, £8.99).

Asian forest scorpion – Scorpions have a strong, bitter flavour and are normally eaten with sweet chili sauce. Paris Street Rosé is full of rich sweet fruit made from full-bodied Transylvanian Pinot Noir, so it has enough body to cut through the combination of sweet and sour: an exotic wine for a more exotic insect (Paris Street Rose 2013, Dealu Mare, Romania, £7.49).

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