It’s that time of the year when after a month of eating and drinking like pigs, we all collectively jump on the healthy bandwagon. For some, that might mean Dry January – 31 days of absolutely no alcohol.
For pining oenophiles, don’t fear, there are 0% options. But what should you look for in an alcohol-free wine? And will it ever taste like the real thing?
As part of our series Uncorked, where we take your bubbling questions about wine straight to our Independent Wine Club gurus, we’ve got the answer.
Q. Are non-alcoholic wines any good?
A. With the festivities over, I often get asked whether I’ll be participating in the dreaded “dry January”, a strange, quintessentially British tradition that makes a cold, wet, dark month even more miserable. For the record, my answer is always a resounding “No!” followed by the increasingly tired qualification “unless it’s Extra Dry”. Apart from anything, the drinks and hospitality industries need your support as much as any other at the beginning of the new year. That being said, those curious and courageous enough to venture into 2023 booze-free should be reassured that the variety of 0% options is increasing and means there is plenty to check out.
Does that mean they really taste like wine? Or like decent wine anyway? In my opinion, not quite. I’ve yet to try any still wines that excite me, although there are definitely some non-alcoholic bubbles (beer and wine) that impress. Apart from the taste, the texture and mouthfeel of non-alcoholic wines does not feel the same to me but it’s a growing market and some producers are making 0.0% wines that provide a lot of pleasure.
I’m always happy to have my opinions challenged and changed; just a few weeks ago we brought an organic 0.0% sparkling Rosé that I’ve been rather taken with to our Christmas tasting, and the feedback was very positive. I keep bottles of this and 0.0% beer (a more successful category) on hand at home for drivers and non-drinkers and will happily have a glass myself even though I am not pregnant nor operating heavy machinery.
Ultimately it could be a while before my wine racks have an expansive non-alcoholic selection, but for anyone keen to find a substitute to wine, the variety of options is growing and there has never been a better time to find something that appeals to your palate and budget.
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