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the pioneers of alcohol-free

Compared to a tasting menu punctuated by wine pairings, the same meal accompanied by water frankly lacked gourmet added value. In some restaurants, lovers of “good bottles” may nevertheless soon envy the growing proportion of customers who do not drink alcohol, for reasons of health, philosophy, religion, age, work or road safety … Because , after the food and wine pairings, the time has come for pairings alcohol-free.

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The trend is logically born in countries less deeply attached than France to a wine culture. After the Scandinavian pioneers (including René Redzepi’s Noma, in Copenhagen, champion of the sweet fermentation of kombuchas), Australians (Dan Hunter’s Brae, in Birregurra; Ben Shewry’s Attica, in Melbourne), or Americans (the Blue Hill by Dan Barber, in New York State), exploding creativity without ethanol to combine it with that of their cuisine, the chefs of France are taking their turn. Whether they are triple starred (Anne-Sophie Pic, Mauro Colagreco, Alexandre Mazzia) or dashing hussars of bistronomy (Florent Ladeyn, Matthias Marc, Juan Arbelaez).

Raspberry-tarragon lemonade for smoked mackerel

“We cherish wines, but the dialogue between food and non-alcoholic drinks is almost virgin territory, fascinating to explore”, enthuses Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman with three macaroons in France, who, in Valence (Drôme), will offer, when Maison Pic reopens, a “non-alcoholic pairing” formula for its unique menu. With her sommelier, Paz Levinson, the chef took advantage of the confinement to push even further a reflection allowing to propose “A real continuity between the plate and the drinks”.

“I even find the exercise more exhilarating than finding a wine or food pairing, because it allows for even more precise associations. »Orane Vanheule, sommelier

The result of constant exchanges between the sommelier and the kitchen and pastry teams working together to make beverages based on plant infusions, fruit and vegetable waters, teas, coffees, spices, dairy products and other non-alcoholic distillates obtained through to a “rotary evaporator”, the Rotovap.

“I was afraid of the extra work that it represented, but it was ultimately one of the best decisions I made”, welcomes Florent Ladeyn speaking of the agreements “Without, or almost, alcohol” launched almost two years ago in his Auberge du Vert Mont, in Boeschepe (North).

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