It doesn’t get much better than a bottle of wine chilling on ice and ready to pour on a warm summer day, especially a bottle of bubbles. It’s clear that non-alcoholic spirits and alternative beverages are here to stay, but most non-alcoholic wine reviews paint a disappointing picture of what is currently available. A lot of them cost the same as a bottle of alcoholic wine, so you don’t want to waste your money on gimmick products and non-alcoholic beverages that do not taste good.
The purpose of Master of Mocktails is to find non-alcoholic beverage products and let you know 1) if they’re worth purchasing and 2) how to use them. I have consulted with some tastemakers and scoured the web for reviews of the best tasting non-alcoholic wines to provide you with thorough information.
As a result of this research, I believe the best place to start for a non-alcoholic wine is sparkling wine, and out of this category, try St. Regis Sparkling Brut.
Here are all the products on the list:
1. St. Regis Sparkling Brut
2. Gruvi Non-Alcoholic Prosecco
3. Badass Mom Wine Sparkling Rose
4. Fre Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Brut
HOW IS NON-ALCOHOLIC WINE MADE?
Non-alcoholic wine has been de-alcoholized, which means it was made into wine first, then the alcohol was removed. Depending on the wine, the timing for this changes. There are a few ways to go about removing alcohol from wine. Here are the most common:
- Filtration: Subject the wine to a high pressure environment, and push it through a membrane that, after multiple passes, filters out the alcohol.
- Vacuum distillation: this form of distillation allows the alcohol to boil at a lower temperature so that it can be removed without subjecting the rest of the wine to high temperatures, which would have a detrimental effect on the flavor.
- Spinning Cone Column: This process extracts the alcohol out of the wine using steam under a vacuum. This is a gentler process than other methods, and allows for more preservation of aroma and flavor compounds.
- Reverse osmosis: This process filters out the alcohol and water through a very fine filter. Then the alcohol is distilled out. Once the alcohol is removed, the water is added back into the compounds that were originally not filtered out in the first step (these create aroma, tannins, and color). Some winemakers use this to reduce alcohol volume, but you can use it to remove as much as you want.
DOES NON-ALCOHOLIC WINE TASTE LIKE WINE?
Short answer: non-alcoholic wines do not really taste like wine. Unfortunately, the alcohol removable processes listed above are not without their drawbacks. The alcohol is actually a main driver for how you smell wine: the aromas are released through its evaporation from the surface. Therefore, the aromas may be present in non-alcoholic wine, but we aren’t able to detect them in the same way without the alcohol. Improvements are always being made with these technologies, so there is hope.
However, there are some promising wine substitutes if you can’t drink alcohol. The best options are sparkling, leaning towards the flavor profiles of prosecco. This makes sense, since those aromas are traditionally delicate. Below are some festive non-alcoholic sparkling wines perfect for these summer months.
NON-ALCOHOLIC SPARKLING WINES THAT STAND OUT
St. Regis Sparkling Brut
This non-alcoholic brut tastes too sweet to be compared to alcoholic brut sparkling wine, but is perhaps an acceptable sub for a slightly sweet prosecco, with 8.2g sugar in 8oz. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and dealcoholized through vacuum distillation, St. Regis Sparkling Brut is a solid choice for a non-alcoholic sparkling wine. Drop a little orange juice in and you’ve got yourself a Non-alcoholic Mimosa. stregiswines.com
Recommended mocktail: Non Alcoholic Mimosa
Gruvi Non-Alcoholic Prosecco
If you really want some bubbles this summer and can’t have alcohol, Gruvi’s Non-Alcoholic Prosecco is a great substitute. It’s light and refreshing, and comes in 10oz bottles that have 50 calories/11g sugar, in addition to having 0% alcohol. It doesn’t exactly taste like the real thing, but the spirit is there – it’s slightly floral and tart, crisp and delicately sweet. Unlike the other non-alcoholic wine products, Gruvi blends juice from white wine grapes with carbonated spring water and natural flavors. If you’re not a fan of prosecco, Gruvi also has some great non-alcoholic beers. getgruvi.com
Brand recommended mocktail: Herbal tonic
Badass Mom Wine Sparkling Rose
This bubbly has a crisp finish you would find in a refreshing summer appropriate sparkling rosé. Badass Mom Wine makes their non-alcoholic sparkling rosé from Tempranillo grapes using the brut method, then it undergoes dealcoholization. It is marketed to pregnant women and moms because it has 0% alcohol, but if you are not in that category, you can still enjoy this as a non-alcoholic substitute for sparkling rosé at your next summer brunch. Just note that it smells and tastes remarkably like it has alcohol in it. badassmomwine.com
Brand recommended mocktail: Badassmom Frosé
Fre Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Brut
Fre Brut is Sutter Home’s version of a non-alcoholic brut sparkling wine. It can’t really be considered a brut substitute because it’s too sweet. It smells like green apple and stone fruit, and it tastes like sweet grape juice. If you typically lean towards a sparkling wine on the sweet side and you can’t have alcohol, this could be worth trying. It’s reminiscent of an Asti Spumante, with 27g of carbs in a 250ml can. It can also be found in a traditional 750ml bottle. Frewines.com
Brand recommended mocktail: Melancholy Baby
NON ALCOHOLIC WHITE WINE AND RED WINE
So far, I have not discovered a non-alcoholic still wine I can recommend. The tannins and flavors are usually way off or non-existent in non-alcoholic red wines. I will dive into reviews of some non-alcoholic red wines when there are more options to review. In addition, the non-alcoholic white wines available seem to be too sweet for most reviewers that are looking for a white wine substitute.
If a non-alcoholic wine is on the sweet side, bubbles have shown to help offset this perception, which is why they are the best choice for a non-alcoholic summer wine. However, if you’re not into sparkling wine, there are some great mocktails that won’t disappoint for a refreshing summer beverage. I recommend trying one of these versions of a non-alcoholic mule first.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DRINK NON-ALCOHOLIC WINE?
This is a solid question, and one that I hear often. Here’s the thing: it’s a personal choice, just like every other choice you make about what goes in your body. One could equally ask, why do you drink alcohol? Again, no judgement either way. There are myriad reasons people choose to not drink alcohol, whether it be temporary (diet, pregnancy, dry january) or permanent (allergy, medical reasons, change in relationship with alcohol).
Without getting into a philosophical monologue about why people choose to drink alcohol, I’ll just say this: it’s nice to have a festive beverage in a multitude of settings. If you love and care about food and how it is cultivated, prepared and served, then that passion probably spills into the category of beverages, whether you drink alcohol or not.
One interesting issue that keeps popping up in the world of alternative beverages is that it seems anyone can name their product a non-alcoholic version of anything. There are no rules or definitions. In other words, if it tastes most like non-alcoholic wine or you are marketing a non-alcoholic product to people that like wine, you can call it wine even if it is not wine or even made from wine. It makes sense, because how else would we be able to find an appropriate substitute for the alcoholic beverages we love? As long as there are people looking to replace alcohol with a “likeness,” the terms “non-alcoholic [product]” will have to suffice as descriptors of what is in the bottle.
If you have found any non-alcoholic wine or sparkling wine that you like, please share via the contact form. As always, browse the recipe library for mocktail recipes and check back for the latest discoveries of non-alcoholic spirits, wine, and beer.