“Most people who walk into a supermarket to buy a bottle of wine aren’t experts; they just want something good they can drink with friends. And if for some reason they drink in moderation or just don’t feel like drinking, that’s a very, very good option,” Blair agreed.
“And what’s really exciting about this space is that the range is expanding. It’s really great for people to have options and with the attitude that it’s not like, ‘that’ is that wrong with you’ if you don’t drink. New Zealand has a drinking culture. I’m from Ireland, which most definitely has a drinking culture. And you know, the number times when people are going to say, you know, ‘why don’t you drink?’ And less and less is that question being asked; there’s a respect around it.”
To continue normalizing the shift in drinking culture, Blair advises everyone to have at least one non-alcoholic wine or spirit on hand for any sober or sober-curious guests.
“It continues to normalize. I had friends of mine who have hospitality venues and they complained about Dry July because people don’t go out as much. And I’m like, okay, cool – what’s your non-alcoholic offer? And they’re like, ‘Oh, we have Coke.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, – who wants to go out on a date and have dinner and a Coke?’ So I think everyone is stepping up their game, having some good options and pushing the dial a little bit further it says go out, have a good time, have dinner, have a glass of wine, and that’s not a big deal .
“Hopefully in the not too distant future, it will be second nature for cafes that have a liquor license to also have non-alcoholic beverages as part of their normal menu.”
Newshub traveled to Blenheim for judging of the New World Wine Awards courtesy of New World.
Some answers have been slightly edited for length and/or clarity.