According to Gürbüzer, head of sales, creating excellent wines without alcohol is a multi-layered challenge. His mother, Moa Gürbüzer, worked as a social worker for over 25 years and founded Oddbird in order to change the way we drink.
— We do that by producing craft beverages liberated from alcohol, Mehmet Gürbüzer tells. Alcohol has a detrimental effect on our society. Every 10 seconds someone dies because of alcohol and 1 in 7 men will die as a direct consequence of drinking alcohol. At the same time, alcohol is very glorified in our society and is often perceived as something positive. It is also strongly linked with some of the most influential characters in pop culture such as James Bond even though he on average consumes 4 times more than what is safe for adults which should have led to his death a long time ago…
— Our main focus is to change the perception of non-alcoholic beverages, which for a long time, have had a bad reputation. This is mainly driven by the alcohol industry that has produced low-value products without alcohol in order to circumvent marketing laws to promote their alcoholic brands. We are working to change these norms and in order for us to do so, we have to be the best producer of wines liberated from alcohol. We craft wines that from the finest vineyards, selected carefully by us, that have been produced using traditional methods and matured for up 12 months before gently liberating them from alcohol. We believe in a society where the question question ”Would you like your wine with or without alcohol” should be as easy as ”Would you like your coffee with or without milk”.
As mentioned, offering these excellent wines comes with several different challenges. Oddbird, however, has come up with its own technology to do things slightly differently.
— We have to look at several factors such as the conditions where the grapes are grown, the actual characteristics of a grape, the vinification process and the molecular properties of a finished wine, and how well that wine will suit our dealcoholization process. After we have done that analysis, we have to dealcoholize the wine in a non-invasive manner and after we are done with the dealcoholization, we don’t add any additives to enhance or alter the taste perception. Our products contain only wine, sugar, and a little bit of sulphates to protect the wine from oxidation. Our patented dealcoholization process is quite complex but the easiest way to explain it is that we put the wine in a vacuum at room temperature and add a few degrees of heat and let the alcohol naturally evaporate.
Since launching, Oddbird has created several spectacular and unconventional campaigns and launch events. Gürbüzer tells how, in order to change consumption behaviors, the brand believes that it’s crucial to not only talk about the negative aspects of alcohol but, more importantly, talk about the positive aspects of ”being liberated”.
— Take our biggest activity to date, The Nowhere Restaurant, in the summer of 2020, as an example. It was a dining experience in the middle of Nowhere where we collaborated with chefs Linn Söderström and Marion Ringborg from Garba. We had 6 tables in a nature reserve completely isolated from each other and we did a multi-course food and Oddbird pairing. The restaurant was pre-book and pre-pay so you could just show up and was taken care of. A dining experience in the middle of the woods in a nature reserve with food made by local produce is one of the perks of being liberated, but also to be able to be sharp and spend time on meaningful conversations and building relationships. We want to enhance that with our different activities. Afterwards, we created a press release with some imagery that was featured in some of the largest magazine outlets in the world. We sold out all available bookings within 1 minute and had a 300 person+ waiting list the same day — which is still growing every week, one and a half years later. This just shows the demand for a new type of consumption that is focused on people’s health and wellbeing.
Who’s your customer?
— The preconceived idea is that people drinking products without alcohol are either driving or pregnant. This is very far from the truth. The biggest driving factor behind drinking our wines is being conscious about your physical health, mental health, and time. We also have a deeper understanding that alcohol is a personality-altering drug that we don’t want to expose to our family and friends. For example, many of our customers are parents who have decided that they do not want to be intoxicated around their children. It is also important to remember that many of the consumers still consume alcohol but significantly less than before. In essence, people like to socialize and have fantastic experiences but still want to be sharp Sunday morning.
And, I imagine that you follow the non-alcoholic ”trend” first-hand. How do you experience it and how do you think that the non-alcoholic beverages will develop onwards?
— When we started back in 2013, many people had never even heard about non-alcoholic wine and had no idea about what it was. Now we see all sorts of products and interesting propositions such as kombucha or plant-based ”elixir” like spirits. We also see many classic spirits without alcohol, such as gin, rum, and whiskey. The switch from being an avid alcohol consumer to being liberated is a part of a long-term shift in our general lifestyle. We have become generally healthier — we eat less meat, eat less sugar, smoke less cigarettes, drive less fossil fuel, and consume less dairy products. Alcohol is one of the last industries that has not been criticized en masse, yet, but we are sure that this will happen very soon and look forward to being at the forefront.
Oddbird’s range is available through their own e-com, Amazon, and several e-tailers and stores. The latest launch is from Veneto, Italy — a limited collaboration with a family-owned estate called Contra Soarda.
— It’s the world’s first low intervention wines [often referred to as ”natural wines”, Ed’s note] liberated from alcohol. Contra Soarda is a great example of how winemakers of the future should work. They pick everything by hand and use no additives or pesticides. They have a clear strategy on how to use waste and rain to create fertilizers and a water supply. The wine is then fermented spontaneously, without any intervention, and ”microvinified”, which is a winemaking process where you ferment the wine on a very small scale — and in this case also in different barrels. Then we gently liberate the wine from alcohol and are able to create two very exciting products that truly express the location they were grown and at the same time have 6 times less c02 impact compared to an average wine, Gürbüzer concludes.