Ferments: Natural wines, cider or kombucha: the bubble boom explodes in Mexico


A person holds a glass of wine in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
A person holds a glass of wine in Aguascalientes, Mexico.Fernando Macías Romo (Getty Images)

Call it sparkling natural wine, cider or kombucha there is a boom of fizzy drinks. In Mexico, as in the rest of the world, it only takes one Instagrammer announcing that he improved his health by drinking kombucha to unleash a cascade of likes and fury.

Currently any product labeled organic, artisanal or healthy has a guaranteed place in the cupboard of addicts to alcohol. wellness, but also when it comes to good quality food or drinks, they have won the hearts of those who spend hours looking for something exceptional. What sounds the most these days are ferments. A conservation technique that consists of the degradation of organic matter thanks to a microorganism (fungus, bacteria or yeast). Be careful, it is not spoiling, it is controlling the sugar and oxygen so that the grapes become good wine.

Every day we consume ferments – cheese, beer or yogurt – but now we want all of them. Its demand has generated several projects in Mexico City, some focused on refreshing fizzy drinks.

The old champagne, which used its cork to choose the protagonists of the next wedding, is out of fashion, its place is now occupied by sparkling natural wines, known as pét-nat (natural sparkling, in French). They are easy to identify because they are young wines —white, rosé or red— that are usually covered with a cork.

For some years now, it has been possible to find them in various restaurants, in small specialized stores such as Escorpio and Vinos Chidos, and in Loofok, a natural wine winery, located in the Doctores neighborhood, founded by Gaëtan Rousset.

Rousset grew up in Lyon and has lived here for more than a decade; During one of his visits to France, he became obsessed with natural wines made with ancient techniques and decided to bring them to Mexico. He approached winemakers far removed from industrialization and devoted to alchemy: dependent on quality inputs, the time to achieve a good fermentation and their palate to create delicious juices.

Within the Loofok catalog there are ancestral sparkling wines, precisely the pét-nat, which generate carbonic gas already bottled, that is why they have thick bubbles, unlike the fine bubbles of traditional sparkling wines (champagne or cava), which go through a double fermentation. For Rousset, “pét-nats are an alternative to beer and are expensive because making them is complex and delicate.”

Another of the most desired novelties by thirsty connoisseurs is cider, but not the pink one from the two-liter bottle with which it is offered on New Year’s Eve, but the new artisan products with a more complex flavor.

Natural wines (pét-nat) from the Loofok winery, Colonia Doctores, Mexico City.
Natural wines (pét-nat) from the Loofok winery, Colonia Doctores, Mexico City.COURTESY

Sidra Libre is Mexican made with apples grown in Mixteca, it is a collaboration of Umani, a ferments company, and Sexto, an organization dedicated to researching ingredients. “Developing this cider was a very long process; We decided to do it because it’s worth it, even though we only got 80 bottles, ”said Jorja Ávila, Umani’s partner with Ixchel García and Juan Carlos Hidalgo. Together they began this culinary adventure that has become known for its flavored kombuchas: holy leaf, grapefruit-rosemary and coffee husk.

When Umani was born, at the end of 2019, they did not know that they were entering the field of hobbies world to withstand the confinement. During the eternal quarantine many decided to give themselves up to the challenge of feeding a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and YeastKombucha, an ancient tea ferment – not alcoholic – that suddenly reappeared as an alternative to demonized soda pop, is known to the community of bacteria needed for kombucha. Ávila believes that, “although not everyone has the patience to take care of these organisms, now they know the process behind and the value of certain products. It’s cool to connect with food not only by making it, but also by understanding it ”.

For Carlos Cohen, co-owner of Taller de Fermentos, the recent fame of kombucha is a consequence of the fact that “the gringos began to study digestion and find probiotics and prebiotics, and they realized that ferments fall into that category.” No one can deny the satisfaction generated by the bubbles in our mouth and if that pleasure is also a miraculous remedy, what better!

Some Mexicans were already fans of less famous local ferments. Pulque (made from maguey), tejuino (made from corn) and tepache (made from pineapple) are popular in some regions, they are simple to prepare, take a few hours, and are drunk before they degrade. Cohen says that, “actually the current trend is a European and North American influence. We have a culture of consuming fresh things because we are a country rich in ingredients every season of the year ”.

Cohen studied mechatronics, then took sommelier courses, and in the interim realized that he wanted to reconnect with the field. To achieve this, he began to experiment. His pinino was a mead, a ferment of honey, and after several inventions, he is about to launch a line of fruit wines: “just to end the idea that wine is only made from grapes”.

Taller de Fermentos is also an open laboratory where, together with his partner, Andrés Valverde, he gives courses for the brave who want to learn to take care of microorganisms and generate their own ferments, a task as complicated as having several pets. For the handy craving for ciders, sparkling natural wines or kombuchas who just want to quench their curiosity, quench their thirst, or be healthier, there are many options available on the market or a short distance away. click.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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