These drinks could well be a way to bring in new audiences. Crafting a product like wine with unexpected elements can change preconceived notions about what the base beverage is or has to be.
On the flip side, an increasing amount of beer is being made with wine components. Take Vista Brewing, a new Texas brewery located between Austin and the Hill Country wine region. Owners Kent and Karen Killough and brewmaster Josh Watterson are repurposing local wineries’ barrels to age their beer. But while barrel-aged everything is on-trend nowadays, the team at Vista is using freshly dumped barrels, getting them the same day or the day after they’ve been rid of wine.
“Our flavor profiles aren’t just a red wine or a white wine fermentation; we’re talking about a Viognier or Aglianico fermentation,” says Watterson, who formerly made wine in Oregon. He wants those grape flavors in his end-product, as opposed to working with a neutral barrel.
As a result, Watterson says the beers have more tannic structure and more acidity. “It sits much more on the table like a wine than it does a beer,” he adds. Vista’s wine barrel–aged beers are offered in 750ml bottles, and most of the line is labeled with a specific grape.