Does non-alcoholic wine taste like natural wine?
The question about the taste of alcohol-free wine is excellent and asked a lot on this blog. Does non-alcoholic wine taste like natural wine?
The answer is yes and no. The problem I have seen is two-fold.
The wine industry made some fairly awful wine initially, which, let face it, tasted like grape juice.
It probably tasted like that because it was.
Even when they have bubbles, it tastes like grapefruit juice with sparkling water chucked in for good measure.
Plus, in the early years, that is how the thing was. It was a new industry. There was no real market or need.
Things had not moved on in the alcohol-free world, but the good news is they have now.
But my answer is still no? It mimics alcohol-free wine, but it’s not alcohol wine full stop.
And here is why!
Alcohol-free wine is alcohol-free.
Now, this may seem a rather stupid thing to say.
But the alcohol-free drinks market is so complicated I am not surprised it is confusing.
People ask plenty of questions and will say, “I have heard it contains quite a bit of alcohol, but a lot or not that much”.
The questions keep coming, and the whole description of it is confusing.
And is it any wonder people think that about alcohol-free wine?
Let’s check out what abv means and alcohol by volume.
It means the strength of your drink, whether it be beer, wine, whiskey, rum or lager.
It tells you in a way how much alcohol is going into your bloodstream.
Plus, people presume with alcohol-free wine, there must be some alcohol in it; otherwise, what is the point.
I have had servers say that to me in a bar!
People don’t drink alcohol for lots of reasons.
People who don’t drink alcohol may or may not have had a problem with alcohol in the past.
So has many of the population in terms of the recommended unit weekly unit. There are lots of undiagnosed alcoholics walking around.
- You may hate the taste.
- Be fed up with alcohol hangovers.
- Realize it affects your health
- Running a marathon in the morning.
There are so many reasons why people give up alcohol or cut back.
Just ask any Doctor! People make up how much they drink!
However, look at the wine label, and it’s somewhat confusing from low to de-alcoholised
Official label guidelines
According to the UK website, drink aware, here are the official drink labelling requirements.
Although even with these, it may be hard to work it out.
- Alcohol-free: no more than 0.05 % ABV
- De-alcoholised: no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low alcohol: no more than 1.2% ABV
Not that this can help, but people are shocked that alcohol-free might contain a trace.
But alcohol forms in many products naturally, including bananas, bread trolls and orange juice.
Now I would only ever go for zero wine, so 0.0%, and I expect, like some food product, it may have a trace.
But in reality, other food might have more than 0.5% alcohol.
If you are medically concerned, always check with your doctor, although I find food a somewhat confusing area.
So for me, it’s zero because of my health.
However, you can see why people get confused.
It has become the drink of choice after work.
If you think about wine, it was a drink with a meal at a social occasion.
Now it is seen as after work but part of the de-stress routine for many.
But here is the thing: one large glass can be up to 2-4 units of your weekly allowance depending on the strength of the ABV- alcohol by volume.
So you can see why people are looking for alcohol-free wine.
As one reader said:
“It started as one small glass, but I now realize that it was huge, and before you knew it, I was drinking a bottle of wine at night. Some nights I even opened another bottle and thought I only had a few glasses!”
She only had a few glasses of wine, but they were big ones, so a few of them and you had downed a bottle.
Plus, you will have reached your recommended limit in one evening if you are not careful.
Sales of alcoholic wine have increased massively.
The Grocer Magazine reports that in one year, wine sales increased.
The amount is staggering from a 31.1% increase to £3,440m in the 24 weeks to 6 September 2020.
Now in money terms, this is an £815m increase.
But with sales of alcoholic free drinks increasing by about 23 per cent per annum, people are starting to clock that something has to change.
It’s been driven by the younger generation mainly, but there is interest across the board.
Alcohol-Free wine mimics alcohol wine.
Take the alcohol out; then it won’t taste the same.
Time and time again, I see people buying alcohol-free wine, beer or gin saying, but “they do not taste the same”.
It is not meant to taste like alcohol. Otherwise, it would be alcoholic wine.
But it is meant to be a decent drink, so keep all the aromas and the flavour minus the alcohol.
They have improved the process so much, and it’s getting to the top of its game.
My suggestion is to try a few and see what you like, then build a habit with it.
Have a bottle of wine in the fridge that is alcohol-free and use that for drinks after work.
Hopefully, it will fill you with some confidence that it is not cheaper for a reason and involves expensive technology.
The thing is now, once they have made the wine, they have to take the alcohol then out and keep the flavour.
That is not going to be a cheap process by any means!
And that is good news when it comes down to taste.
My top alcohol-free wine choices
Now there are a lot of brands that came in when alcohol-free wine was not great.
To say you would want to spit it out and never go back is an understatement.
As I travel on an alcohol-free journey, I find more and more products that have come up to scratch.
They do taste like wine.
Yes, and without the alcohol, of course!
From beer and spirits to wine, drinks makers have even upped their sparkling alcohol game.
And let’s be honest, they needed to have done a considerable time ago.
More alcohol-free nightmares and they could have killed the industry.
I am confident they won’t now as excellent marketing and production money is going into the brands.
There is also more choice than ever when it comes to alcohol-free wine.
For example, I am a big fan of alcohol-free sparkling wine, and to be honest, in some cases, I am not sure you could tell the difference minus the fuzzy head.
But now, whites, reds, rosés, and bubbles, there’s an alcohol-free wine option for you.
Yes, there are some scary ones out there, but that is true of any wine where you take a mouthful and think, “no, I don’t think so!”
It often happens when bars offer substandard “house wine”.
However, remember that alcohol-free wine is not alcohol wine.
It means to mimic, and anything else is a bonus.
I have still had people say to me, yeah, it’s OK, but I can’t taste the alcohol. No, you can’t. It is alcohol-free.
I mean, come on, get with the plot!
So rather than give you a long list, here are some of my sure-fire bets in my view.
I would love to know what you think.
For Bubbles Zero Style and Spain
Thomson & Scott established by a lady called Amanda Thomson, and she aimed to have a low-sugar, vegan-friendly alternative chance to have an alcohol-based sparkling wine like a cava or prosecco.
Wow, that is all I can say, and I am not overly keen on Chardonnay grapes either.
This wine is an excellent choice, and the grapes are from Spain, so I like them even better.
The wine is then de-alcoholised via vacuum distillation then it goes through a carbonated process.
Vacuum distillation is a complicated process, and I am not sure everyone is interested in it from a consumer’s perspective.
But we need to know what we are drinking.
The art of vacuum distillation means you get to keep the flavour and aroma of the wine but lose the alcohol.
It is more complicated than it sounds.
It keeps the flavour big time.
And you get alcohol free bubbles!
Torres wine had my admiration for a long while as a wine producer even when I drank alcohol.
They are now taking on the alcohol-free wine market and doing it with style.
I will flag that red wine as it is often difficult to replicate.
With Torres, that is not the case.
Red Alcohol-Free wine made from Syrah grapes using the best production process.
They have kept the traditions of winemaking.
The wine is made in a barrel before the alcohol is removed from the wine,
For alcohol-free wine, they have kept the blackcurrant hibiscus woody aromas, and if you are looking for zero alcohol wine that tastes like wine, this is a great bet.
Would you drink alcoholic free wine?
Would you go there, or is it a step too far? Would you do that seven-night challenge and drink a nice glass of alcohol-free wine or fizz every night?
It is incredible what the mind can do with habit building.
I have not had cravings for alcohol since I gave up drinking because of health concerns big time.
That’s very much down to a great range of alcohol-free choices now out there.
Yes, of course, if alcohol, free wine triggers you to drink more alcohol to the point it’s a problem, then stay away and get help and advice is out there!
But for the majority having something that is not a soft drink can take the pressure off.
However, give yourself a head start and go for a decent alcoholic free wine.
So when you get asked, does non-alcoholic wine taste like natural wine? You can say yes, minus the alcohol! Leave your thoughts below, and I will always respond.