Aritz López says his company’s unusually colored wine, launched last month in Spain, will disrupt the country's winemaking traditions. “It’s not just about drinking blue wine, but about breaking the rules and creating your own,” he says.
Rebellion and revolution in Spain may get you thinking about 20th century civil wars and bloody political uprisings, but apparently the way today's Spaniards stick it to the man is a little more civilised.
Gïk Live is a Spanish company founded by six twenty-somethings who want to disrupt the winemaking traditions of the Basque country. A truly revolutionary ethos that any freedom fighter (or any Silicon Valley start-up) would be proud of.
Gïk's charge against Spain's wine industry is being led by a blue wine, a "sweet and blue drink" with an ABV of 11.5 percent, made by mixing red grape skin pigment with a plant-based food dye. Launched in Spain last month, the wine is now available to order online in the UK and comes with the tagline "We are Gïk and we will change the world." Who needs Juan Larrea?
We got in touch with Aritz López, one of the co-founders of Gïk to find out more about his world-changing wine. He has attributed his comments to the whole Gïk team because— in López's words—"We work horizontally without established hierarchies, and we consider ourselves creators :P."
Viva la revolucion.
MUNCHIES: Hi Aritz, so what does your blue wine taste like? Aritz López/the hierarchy-free Gïk team: Our aim was to create a very easy to drink beverage. Unlike any other wine, you don't have to attend some sommelier's class, be at hundred tastings, or learn the Bible of enology to enjoy Gïk. It is made for everyone, for normal people that don't need to know thousands of rules in order to enjoy a wine, such as us. We could only say that it tastes like blue wine, like a revolution in an ancient industry. It may seem obvious, but it has a really unique flavour. It is sweet, fresh, and easy to drink.
OK, so what is your interpretation of the taste? For me, it is a wine that is not complex at all. It tastes sweet and fresh and has no heritage. Surprisingly, when we did a blind tasting, just one of 15 people said it was a wine. Among the reactions we found some people even saying it was a soft drink!
Why did you want to colour it blue? Turning it blue has a lot of meaning for us. When we started to think about developing the project, we read a book called Blue Ocean Strategy, that says that there are two kind of oceans: the red ones, full of sharks (competitors) fighting against each other for a few fishes (clients) and turning the ocean red because of the blood. It talked about creating blue oceans—oceans where, thanks to creativity and innovation, everyone could be free.
Sounds idyllic. Why did you focus on the wine industry as a way of shaking up the system? We are artists, musicians, engineers, and all very young (between 22 and 28 years old) and we were born in a country where wine is very linked to culture. It hasn't changed for centuries and it seems that they prefer tradition instead of innovation.
We thought this didn't make sense anymore so we started to think about changing it. None of us liked traditional wine, nor the rules that surround it. It is even the liquid that represents Christ's blood at church! That's why we decided to start our own revolution by creating a sweet, easy to drink blue wine.
And how exactly did you make it blue? None of us is a chemical engineer or an experienced winemaker. We had a lot of help mainly from our university, the University of the Basque Country. They gave us a laboratory in which we could investigate and we got help from several leading technological institutes within the food industry and from a team of chemical engineers.
We mix different varieties of red and white grapes. Then, we add two organic pigments: the anthocyanin, which comes from the red grapes' skin, and the indigotine, another organic pigment. Thanks to those, we turn it blue. Then we change the flavour as if it was a soft drink, using non-caloric sweeteners.
Don't you think that educating people about wine would be an easier way to take away the snobbery that surrounds the industry? We wouldn't say it is better, nor worse. It is just different. For us, Gïk is not even a blue wine, but the representation of what we stand for: creation and creative rebellion. As we always say, drinking Gïk is not just about drinking blue wine, but about drinking innovation, drinking creation, breaking the rules and creating your own. It is about reinventing traditions.
That's why, I suppose, Gïk can encourage people to forget about what they have been told, and just enjoy it however they want to.
Do you view the product more as a protest against wine snobbery or a serious drink? We know some people may see us as rioters. Actually, some traditional winemakers have told us that Gïk is a blasphemy or a terrible invention. One of them even encouraged us to go create apps and leave the industry alone. But we just feel that what we do makes a lot of sense. We like transgression, trying to change people's minds.
As I told you, we wouldn't even say it is a wine, because its taste may be more similar to a beer, a soft drink or a cocktail, so we really see it as a creation to lead a new category of beverages.
Thanks for talking to me, Aritz. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.