Wine Questionary:

Non-alcoholic wines?

We're often asked about non-alcoholic wines for those who wish to avoid alcohol.

I'm sorry to say that the word on this is not promising. There are only a few brands of de-alcoholized wine, and after repeated tastings, I don't consider any of them satisfactory.

The two U.S. brands I have tried are Fré and Ariel. These brands are widely available in wine stores, but I've found the whites to be bland and the reds actively unpleasant. It's my opinion that three issues are at work here: First, the de-alcoholizing process is intrusive and seems to damage the wine, even though the makers claim otherwise. Second, alcohol is a key component of the customary flavor (and texture) profile of wine, and wines without it seem to be missing something; they seem lightweight and thin. Finally, to be blunt, these are inexpensive wines made from marginal grapes.

My best advice to people who want to take a break from wine is to skip these near-wine beverages and go directly to more interesting and flavorful non-alcoholic alternatives: Quality fruit juices, sparkling water, good coffee or tea.

Maybe it's my border-South roots, but I find a fresh, well-made iced tea, strong and unsweetened with a squirt of lemon or lime, to come about as close to what I'm looking for in wine as any non-alcoholic beverage can: It's fruity and floral, with natural tannins and crisp acidity, and that sounds almost like a wine-tasting note.\r\n

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