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food / travel

Introducing The World's First Halal Sparkling Wine

Muslim guests at celebrations will no longer have to stand around with a Coke in their hands. For Munich's Four Seasons Hotel, a local company has produced the first-ever non-alcoholic sparkling wine made in accordance with Islamic law.

Tasting Dinar
Tasting Dinar
Franz Kotteder

MUNICH — There are many reasons to indulge in a glass of sparkling wine or champagne. Some drink it to keep their blood pressure even, some simply find it just wonderfully refreshing. Most of the time, we pop a cork to mark an occasion or celebration, and to let our hair down with a little alcohol.

But there's actually an enormous market for people who don't drink alcohol, as the Munich-based company Vigorous Trading has discovered. The company imports oriental foods for clients, among them the Four Seasons Hotel in Munich, whose summer clientele consists of many Muslim guests. Because their religion forbids them to drink alcohol, the hotel's chief purchaser Sinan-Renan Yaman asked Vigorous Trading's general manager Alexander Ludwig Berg if the company could find some non-alcoholic sparkling wine. He must have felt badly for the monied guests standing around at receptions clutching nothing more festive than a glass of water or Coke.

Berg shared Yaman's sentiment and went in search of producers, finding one in Rüdesheim who makes a Riesling-quality sparkling wine that is entirely non-alcoholic. In fact, the alcohol extraction method is so thorough that the final product actually contains fewer traces of alcohol than orange juice. And that's why it's the only sparkling wine in the world to be halal-certified, meaning that it is prepared in accordance with Islamic law.

The drink is called Dinar, so named for the Arab currency and for the very first Umayyad coin minted in the eighth century. The bottles actually feature a stylized coin on their dark exteriors.

To mimic the taste of alcohol, a flavor alternative needed to be found — and Berg discovered that the juice from dates and pomegranates did the trick. The sparkling date wine is slightly tangy and therefore a good match to the alcoholic original, whereas the pomegranate version is slightly sweet, which "women seem to be partial to," Berg says.

The new drink has been available since September and will premiere at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy during mid-December for its national bank holiday celebrations. "Unfortunately, September was too late in the season" for most of their Arab guests to try the new drink, says Sinan-Renan Yaman, as they "usually visit between April and late August."

But next season will be here before they know it, and when the hotel's gourmet restaurant is closed during the summer season, it may be converted into an Arab pub where plenty of corks will pop from Dinar bottles.

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