02 Nov 2015 Zari non-alcoholic wine alternative launches countrywide in SA
Silvana Dantu and Shareen Parker are the brains behind Zari, this high-end locally produced sparkling grape juice that is already proving a hit, especially with Muslim connoisseurs.
The women – who founded a business called African Equations after working together at the Robben Island Museum in 1996 – have spent the past four years developing a sophisticated alternative to wine and have collaborated with the Van Loveren Wine Estate near Robertson in the Western Cape to have the juice produced from muscat cultivar grapes.
Zari is 100% alcohol free, has no artificial colourants or added sugar, and is said to have a pronounced sweet floral aroma – the muscat bouquet is unmistakable – and a taste that is crisp, fresh and fruity.
Zari, in bubbly bottle format, has been available at exclusive hotels, including Cape Town’s Mount Nelson and Hilton, and the Maslow in Sandton, as well as other selected South African stores.
The two started working on Zari in 2009, after they had recognised a gap in the market for sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages.
Parker says: “We realised many people don’t drink alcohol and their needs were not being catered for. Zari is created for the discerning palate, for adults seeking a great tasting, ethical, healthy drink.”
“South Africa’s tourism industry has changed; we are attracting new audiences,” adds Dantu. “There are people from the Middle East, India, China, Sri Lanka and South Korea. A lot of these people are Muslim. Must they only drink water, Coke and Grapetiser?
“For too long, people who don’t drink wine for health or religious reasons have been offered a choice of water or an inferior fizzy drink. Most of the grape juices on the market are made from blends and concentrates, but Zari is in a class of its own. The terroir and the grape varietals that make our wines world-class also have the potential to provide us with a very superior grape juice.”
Zari’s closest local retail rival is JC le Roux’s non-alcoholic bubbly. The two priced Zari bubbly at an RSP of R60, similar to the JC le Roux product.
Dantu and Parker showcased Zari at the Gulfood Show at the Dubai World Trade Centre in February this year, and landed a distribution deal with the Lulu Hypermarket chain in Dubai.
The inspiration for the name comes from the gold or silver thread that is woven into the most luxurious of Indian or Middle Eastern fabrics. Parker says it was key to design a bottle that was up-market and beautiful, but did not resemble wine packaging.
Apart from the halaal market, their target audience includes “those interested in a healthier alternative, teetotallers, pregnant women or abstainers from alcohol for religious reasons. Often, these groups are not able to find a sophisticated, ethical brand of beverage at hotels or for their events or functions.”
The convenient screw top 750ml bottle will retail for R29. Zari is also available at Spar and soon in Makro in South Africa.