An evening to remember at Altina’s exclusive wine dinner at Botanic House Sydney.

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Altina Drinks
Altina Drinks

I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive Altina wine dinner at the renowned Botanic House Sydney. The event was a delightful convergence of food mastery and innovative zero-alcohol wines, featuring Dr. Christina De Lay, a scientist-turned-zero-alcohol wine maker, and Australia’s esteemed sommelier, Louella Mathews. The evening was an exceptional showcase of Altina’s sophisticated beverage offerings, beautifully complemented by the culinary creations of Botanic House Head Chef Em Meechan.

The evening kicked off with a glass of Altina Sparkling Brut at the Henry Lawson Gate and enjoyed a scenic buggy ride through lantern-lit gardens to the stunning venue.

On the menu, we started with a tantalizing amuse-bouche: crispy battered chili squid served with karkalla and tom yum aioli. This dish was paired with the refreshing Altina Finger Lime Sauvignon Blanc, setting a vibrant tone for the night.

The Altina Finger Lime Sauvignon Blanc presents a pale straw appearance with a hint of green. On the nose, it offers fresh citrus aromas of finger lime and lemon zest, complemented by a subtle hint of green apple. The palate is crisp and refreshing, showcasing vibrant acidity with pronounced citrus notes, green apple, and a slight mineral undertone. The finish is clean and zesty, leaving a lingering citrus tang.

The shared entrées were a harmonious blend of flavours and textures. The green tea smoked duck breast with pickled vegetables, crispy noodle, and tamari & lime dressing offered a smoky yet tangy profile. Alongside it, the grilled salmon salad with heart of palm, cabbage, tempura saltbush, and Asian herbs provided a light and fresh contrast. These dishes were paired with the Altina Kakadu Plum Rosé, enhancing the dining experience with its delicate fruitiness.

This light pink rosé is fragrant with aromas of fresh berries, particularly strawberries and raspberries, enhanced by the unique tartness of Kakadu plum. The palate is delicate and fruit-forward, balancing sweet and tart berry flavours with plum. Floral notes and refreshing acidity add liveliness to the wine, which concludes with a smooth, light finish, leaving a pleasant fruity aftertaste.

For the main courses, the menu featured coral trout steamed in lotus leaf with salmon roe, ginger, spring onions, and oyster & sesame sauce, a dish that was both fragrant and flavorful. Accompanying this was the five spice beef short ribs, rich in flavor with yellow curry and chimichurri, and served with Jasmine rice. These mains were perfectly paired with the robust Altina Pepperberry Shiraz.

Deep ruby red in appearance, the Altina Pepperberry Shiraz has a rich and complex nose featuring dark berries, black pepper, and a hint of spice from native Australian pepperberry. The palate is full-bodied and robust, with flavours of blackberry and plum, enriched by a peppery spice that adds depth. The texture is smooth, with well-integrated tannins, leading to a long and satisfying finish where the pepperberry spice lingers.

The evening concluded with a decadent dessert: sticky date tamarind pudding with coconut pandan sticky rice, miso butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, and seasonal fruits. This sweet finale was paired with the lively Altina Sparkling Sangria, rounding off the meal on a high note.

Bright and bubbly with a clear, golden hue, the Altina Sparkling Sangria is aromatic and vibrant. The nose is filled with citrus fruits, particularly orange and lemon, combined with hints of red berries and a touch of herbaceousness. On the palate, it is effervescent and refreshing, bursting with fruity flavours where citrus and berry notes are prominent. A subtle sweetness and hint of herbs balance the wine, which concludes with a crisp and lively finish, enhanced by the bubbles and leaving a slight sweetness on the tongue.

A Conversation with Dr. Christina De Lay

I had the opportunity to sit next to Dr. Christina deLay for an insightful chat. We’ve all been there: that less-than-stellar feeling the morning after enjoying a few drinks. Dr Christina DeLay, a scientist with a passion for good times (and avoiding the downsides!), understands this all too well. But instead of simply enduring hangovers, she decided to do something about them.

Combining her scientific expertise (including a Bachelor of Biotechnology from the University of Queensland and a PhD in Plant Biology from the Australian National University) with an entrepreneurial spirit, Dr DeLay teamed up with business partner Alan Tse. Together, they officially launched Altina Drinks on 1 December 2018, a brand that was already finding success in the non-alcoholic beverage market.

Q: What inspired you to transition from a scientist to a zero-alcohol wine maker?
A: My journey began with a fascination for the intricate science behind winemaking. However, I saw a gap in the market for high-quality zero-alcohol wines. Combining my scientific background with a passion for creating inclusive beverages led to the birth of Altina.

Q: How do you approach the challenge of crafting zero-alcohol wines that still offer a full-bodied experience?
A: It’s all about balance and innovation. We use a combination of natural ingredients and cutting-edge techniques to extract flavours and aromas that mimic the complexity of traditional wines. Our goal is to create an experience that is just as satisfying as drinking a regular wine.

Q: Can you tell us about the development process of one of your favourite Altina wines?
A: The Altina Kakadu Plum Rosé is particularly special to me. We spent months perfecting the blend of native Australian ingredients like Kakadu plum to achieve a unique flavour profile. The result is a rosé that’s light, refreshing, and distinctly Australian.

Q: What future trends do you see in the zero-alcohol beverage industry?
A: I believe we’ll see a continued rise in the demand for zero-alcohol options, not just for health reasons but also for the social and inclusive aspects they offer. Innovation will drive the industry forward, with more sophisticated and diverse offerings becoming available.

To celebrate Altina Drinks is offering 10% off storewide with code BOTANIC, those wishing to try all of the tipples for themselves can take the opportunity to grab a great deal on the The Altina Taster Collection (RRP: normally$135, now $120).

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