Le Paon Qui Boit, Authenticity & Innovation

Augustin Laborde pouring a glass of non alcoholic wine at Le Paon Qui Boit in Paris on Aug. 26. Matthew Avignone for NPR

Our thanks to Rebecca Rosman for this story from Paris. Here is another case where authenticity (which we care about enough to name our work for it) and traditional “taste of place” products can take a back seat to creativity and innovation. For those who have gone dry(er) and have been passionate about wine for reasons other than alcohol content, this story is for you:

A Paris shop gets in on the non-alcoholic wine trend. Will the French drink it?

A customer grabs a non-alcoholic drink at Le Paon Qui Boit in Paris on Aug. 26. Matthew Avignone for NPR

PARIS — Augustin Laborde quit drinking during the early stages of the pandemic two years ago. Butwhen things finally opened up, he says meeting up with friends in bars quickly became a frustrating experience.

“My only options were basically sugary soda or fruit juice,” he says.

So Laborde, a lawyer with a passion for side projects, started doing some internet research.

Turns out, there was a whole range of alcohol-free beverages on the market; they just weren’t on menus.

That’s when a light bulb turned on.

In April, Laborde opened Le Paon Qui Boit, meaning The Drinking Peacock — which promotes itself as Paris’ first non-alcoholic wine and liquor store. The shop boasts more than 300 bottles of low and zero-proof beers, wines, gins and whiskeys.

“I really value the element of inclusiveness in these products,” Laborde says. “Virtually everyone can drink them — we aren’t separated by drinkers and non-drinkers.”

On a recent day, Laborde offers a tasting of one line of products in particular: wine.

“People are surprised when they see the higher price points,” Laborde says, which can be around 10 to 15 euros a bottle, compared to 4 to 8 euros for a bottle with alcohol in Paris…

Read the whole story here.

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