Is Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Just Grape Juice

Forget beer. I have been asked this more than any other question on the blog, and the reality is this.

Grape Juice unfermented is, yes, just juice, but it’s a different product once it goes through fermentation.

No, it’s not alcohol, but would you go for that if you wanted something to drink and you were cutting back?

The industry is taking great strides to make non-alcoholic wine or alcohol-free wine more palatable, and the good news is they are getting there.

Still don’t believe me?

Reasons why your glass of alcohol-free red wine is not just juice?

Here are some reasons why not.

Did you try non-alcoholic wine to get some choice?

I know I avoided it for ages when I went alcohol-free, which is strange as all I ever really drank was wine.

However, a mix of stress and pushing some boundaries made me ill. So I don’t have any triggers to avoid any alcoholic drink, but if you do, make sure you avoid and seek some help.

It’s out there!

Now you may have made a similar or very different choice regarding alcohol. It might be life or death, or maybe you’re just bored of having a hangover.

Grape Juice or Alcohol-Free Wine

A good friend of mine likes to run but likes her wine.

So she goes for alcohol-free wine.

And she has got used to it. So I think once you realise it’s not alcohol, you start to adjust your expectations.

Its reputation was terrible, like really bad, but it’s getting better, and there are even 0.0% abv wines now.

Before going any further, let’s check out the description in the UK world of labelling alcohol free drinks: Courtesy Drink Aware.

  • Alcohol-free: no more than 0.05 per cent ABV
  • De-alcoholised: no more than 0.5 per cent ABV
  • Low alcohol: no more than 1.2 per cent ABV

But of course, the real world is very different.

If you aim to live an alcohol-free lifestyle like me, you will know that getting an alcohol-free alternative is like coming from another planet.

They think you are just weird.

I mean, alcohol-free choices are minimal. And that is if they have any at all. 

Especially when you’re out and about with mates, you might feel “out of the loop” while you sip on a glass of sparkling water.

Like, of course, we are supposed to do!

The social pressure to drink alcohol is crazy, right? I mean, I could shove three bottles of chardonnay down my through but ask for alcohol-free wine, and it’s like:

“Do you think he used to have a drinking problem!”

I mean, all the pressure to drink alcohol, yikes.

I mean, I never realised that not drinking alcohol would be so stressful. 

And not because of the shakes or addiction; you just have a negative view of why you’re weird.

Firstly you pick up the bottle and look at the price, and need an alcoholic drink to get over the shock.

I mean, this alcohol-free lifestyle may be suitable for your health, but I thought it would be good for the wallet.

OK, you save on the taxi, hangovers and kebabs, but that price on the bottle looks steep!

Isn’t non-alcoholic wine simply more pricey grape juice? 

Despite what you might read on some blogs, an alcohol-free glass of red or white wine is not just grape juice crushed by feet in a marvellous Spanish winery in the sun.

It’s far more complex than that. 

It is one of the reasons it costs what it does.

The process involves more work rather than less.

Read my thoughts on alcohol-free gin here.


So what is the reality check on non-alcoholic red wine?

In case I get thrown in a wine vat soon, here are what I think are the differences and why non-alcoholic wine being mis-sold as grape juice is just in our heads.

Let’s start with how non-alcoholic red wine and also grape juice is made in those now excellent alcohol-free wineries.

I mean, Torres in Spain is making a big splash in this area even with Vegan Wine.

Non-alcoholic wine is made precisely like its alcoholic counterpart.

Read Best Alcohol-Free Wines online.

But with one extra surprise step: the alcohol is eliminated.

Yep, take it out.

Non-Alcoholic Red Wine

This may seem obvious, but many drinkers believe unfiltered grape juice is poured into a bottle, and the price hiked right up.

And do you know what? I don’t blame them for thinking that?

Confession – I did!

So before you get an alcohol-free glass of red wine or even the bottle, let’s find out more after all; it’s alcohol-free, right?

The grape juice starts its journey the same way.

Of course, how the grapes are chosen and where they are picked from all matter.

It is how you get different types of wine at the end of the day, and the same is true for alcohol-free wine.

You still get the types and the flavours that give it the taste of its collected acidity, sweetness and ultimately decide your preference.

Some grapes may be crushed quickly, as you see in those fantastic winemaking sketches, and what they are doing with their feet is dividing the juice from the skins, solids and seeds. 

Or in some cases, the wine pushed slowly to leave the grapes in contact with their skins. 

So at this point, yes, you have natural grape juice, which some manufacturers carbonate and call wine.

No wonder it got a bad reputation!

Unless, of course, you like carbonated grape juice?

Now for the wine, the magic happens!

To make your alcohol-free glass of wine, the liquid goes through a fermentation procedure.

That’s right; otherwise, it is just grape juice.

Our friendly grape juice can go through this for 6-12 hrs, and as we know, wineries will have added the alcohol catalyst, which is commercial yeast.

But, of course, grape juice does not experience a fermentation procedure. 

Far from it, the grapes are sterilised to stop fermentation entirely. 

So for me, this is a crucial difference.

Both non-alcoholic red and white wine go with the entire fermentation procedure and even go onto the ageing process, where the flavour happens.

So while our non-alcoholic red wine is aged, the grape juice next door has additives, and other bits and pieces added, making it OK to sell.

How Is Non-Alcoholic Wine Made?

A non-alcoholic glass of red has the alcohol taken out using filtering.

If you are interested in vegan wine, this is worth reading as the filtering process is different.

It is why non-alcoholic wine has less sugar than grape juice because of its processing.

The original alcohol-free wine, which was essentially grape juice, tasted so sweet and sent many consumers running for the hills.

And you would, wouldn’t you?

So we finally have the truth. But there is some bad news.

So its not alcohol wine, or grape juice

It isn’t alcohol, and it isn’t dieting either.

If you go into an alcohol-free wine journey expecting either of those, you will be disappointed.

And actually, the calorie count on non-alcoholic wine is generally good, but it’s only going to help as part of an overall plan with a diet expert.

And I’m not one!

But we have some clarity.

The difference is clear: alcohol-free red wine is entirely distinct from alcoholic red wine and grape juice.

Non-Alcoholic Wine Is different from grape juice and alcoholic red wine

While it is fermented and matured via the same procedure as alcoholic red wine, the alcohol material is removed, making it as secure alcohol wise as grape juice; however, it tastes like wine.

Well, it is designed to mimic alcohol wine, not be it.

If you want to live an alcohol-free lifestyle like me, then alcohol-free red or white wine deserves a chance, right?

And yes, white wine is made the same, but of course, grapes are separated from the skins.

But then the magic happens.

Forget that grape juice myth.

I mean, if you want grape juice, you can get it but know that white and red wine is made the same as general wine but with the alcohol removed.

Now, this is a bit of a cautionary tale.

Many alcohol-free wines could be masked on the same shelf as low alcohol and de-alcoholised wine. 

Which is fine, but it’s even more complicated than alcohol-free beer.

Always check the abv figure so alcohol by volume.

But if you are after alcohol-free wines, they do exist.

Or know what trace of alcohol you are happy with on a personal level.

If you are cutting back on alcohol or giving up altogether, one thing I know is that non-alcoholic wine or whatever we want to call it deserves at least a chance.

What are your views on non-alcoholic red wine? Or do you prefer non-alcoholic white wine?

Do you think it tastes like grape juice? Leave your views on non-alcoholic red wine below.

Is non-alcoholic red wine just grape juice? Your call.

Leave a Comment