Switching to non-alcoholic red wine is a great lifestyle choice for anyone looking to slash their alcohol in take and cut calories. Nowadays, there are a great many producers delivering first-rate alcohol-free reds to the market, meaning you will not have to settle for subpar results when sipping on a non-alcoholic glass of Merlot or Sauvignon Cabernet. Still unsure of whether or not non-alcoholic red wine is right for you? Our in-depth guide has all the essential information you need to know about non-alcoholic red wine. Read on to find out how it’s made, why it is good for you and what to look out for when shopping for an alcohol-free alternative.
Alcohol-Free Wine Explained
One thing to bear in mind when shopping for non-alcoholic red wines is that, despite what you may think, these alternatives are not completely free of alcohol. No matter whether you are looking for a lighter choice of Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon alternative to curb calorie intake, your so-called alcohol-free red will contain some trace amount of alcohol by volume.
In the United Kingdom, legislation dictates that any wine advertised for sale as non-alcoholic cannot contain more than one percent of alcohol by volume. In the vast majority of cases, however, alcohol-free wine will usually only contain half a percent. Although this minor amount of alcohol might still come as a surprise to some, it is worth remembering that this represents a huge reduction in alcohol content and consumption for those looking to reap the health and lifestyle benefits of non-alcoholic alternatives. However, anyone looking to make the switch to non-alcoholic wine in order to avoid alcohol completely should take extra caution when shopping for alternatives. If you have been advised to avoid alcohol altogether because of a pre-existing medical complaint, non-alcoholic red wines might prove incompatible with your lifestyle. Likewise, if you are taking prescription medication that might be adversely affected by alcohol intake, however slight, you may wish to seek out something with only 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, or cut out consumption altogether.
How Non-Alcoholic Wine is Made
When it comes to producing non-alcoholic red wines, the growing of grape varietals is largely similar to conventional wines. To ensure you are getting the best possible results, look for alcohol-free red wines that utilise grapes that have been left to grow for longer, with the fruit allowed to mature in complexity and character. This will ensure the finished result, even after de-alcoholisation, preserves as much flavour and aromas as possible.
There are two commonly employed techniques for removing alcohol content from wine. One of these is vacuum distillation. Although the least common of the two methods, vacuum distillation is an effective way of removing excess alcohol content from wine and is often the go-to option for producers looking to deliver a wine with as low an alcohol content as possible. This technique requires that the wine is evaporated into a gaseous form before being reconstituted. The evaporation occurs at a relatively low temperate, however, never forcing the wine solution to boiling point. Vacuum distillation is the least popular option of removing alcohol for good reason. The evaporation process compromises the finished product significantly in a lot of cases. Aromas and flavours are massively diminished during distillation, yielding wines that might be lower in overall alcohol content, but severely lacking in terms of signature wine elements. As red wine varieties are particularly beloved for their complexity, you may want to avoid non-alcoholic options that have been produced with this method.
A far more popular option for removing alcohol content from wine is reverse osmosis. Unlike vacuum distillation, reverse osmosis sees those trademark wine elements filtered out of the solution prior to any distillation occurring. The result is that enticing aromas and fuller flavours are preserved and can be reintroduced to produce a wine that is far more in keeping with conventional alternatives. Reverse osmosis is carried out in multiple stages to maintain as much complexity as possible.
Should You Make the Switch to Non-Alcoholic Red Wine?
There are plenty of reasons to consider making the switch to non-alcoholic red wine. The most obvious reason you may want to make the switch is to curb your intake of excess alcohol and the associated calories. If you are looking to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and leaner frame, swapping your usual red with a non-alcoholic alternative can slash hundreds of calories from your weekly intake. Furthermore, a far lower alcohol by volume content means you will not have to suffer the adverse affects of indulging in one too many glasses. With hangovers made a thing of the past, you will have no reason to avoid enjoying a glass or two of your preferred varietal with a mid-week evening meal.
The more discerning wine lover may be resistant to the idea of a non-alcoholic red, dismissing them as subpar to their conventional cousins. While it is true there is some slight compromise on flavour and aroma thanks to the de-alcoholisation process, this compromise is negligible and the final product is largely indistinguishable from conventional wine. When buying non-alcoholic red wines, employ the same savvy shopping behaviour as you would normally. Look for premium grape varietals from tried and trusted producers that employ longer growing periods as a standard. Provided a good level of care has been taken in the growing stages and ageing process of red wine, even a non-alcoholic label can be cellared and enjoyed just like any other premium red.
Non Alcoholic Red Wine Reviews
Now you know what makes a good non-alcoholic wine, it’s time to see what is available on the UK market. Below, you will find our pick of some of the best alcohol-free wines currently available for you to enjoy, with something to satisfy every taste and budget.
If you love a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, this non-alcoholic version from the St Regis label should definitely impress. Despite its non-alcoholic credentials, this imported German red has plenty of refined character and complexity to enjoy. You can look forward to a medium-bodied affair, with distinct favours of dark fruits like blackcurrant and cherries, backed beautifully by a balance of toasted oak, mint, spice and herbaceous notes. These signature Cabernet Sauvignon signatures are present on the nose, making for familiar aromas, while they also carry well onto the palate for plenty of go-to flavours. Furthermore, this wine boasts a particularly smooth finish, making it incredibly easy to drink. You can enjoy this St Regis Cabernet Sauvignon as it is or savour it with meals. It makes a particularly good food pairing choice for meals of pasta or red meat dishes.
Here’s another first-rate non-alcoholic red from Sutter Home we are sure you will love. This premium red blend still has a trace of alcohol content by volume, ensuring those essential wine elements are still noticeable on the nose and palate. First impressions are good, with a rich ruby hue, intense aromas and ripe flavours. The nose is a refined balance of black cherry and subtle spiced notes, while the palate is full of cherry sweetness and fleshy fruit flavours. An undercurrent of spice ties everything together beautifully, building toward a satisfyingly smooth finish that lingers on the tongue. Incredibly rewarding and an easy swap for alcoholic varieties, this Sutter Home Fre Premium Red Blend is a go-to for any occasion. Reach for a bottle when celebrating, or pour a glass to enjoy at the end of a long day. This red blend is also a good option for pairing with food. Enjoy it with beef or lamb dishes or Italian cuisine. Because of its blend of grape varietals, this non-alcoholic red is best enjoyed slightly chilled.
The Sutter Home Fre label delivers again with this non-alcoholic take on the classic Merlot. This is a particularly good option for those who value the refined character of conventional Merlot and don’t want want to compromise when it comes to complex aromas and flavours. This elegant red will entice you in with delicate cherry fragrance and subtle hints of spice, with this elements also carrying nicely onto the palate thanks to a silky smooth body. The finish is packed full of rich flavour, with flavours that will linger on the tongue long after you have enjoyed your final sip. This Californian wine holds up well to its alcoholic alternatives thanks to the first-rate techniques employed during growing and production. With Sutter Home wines, grapes are treated to a longer growing period, allowing the fruit to develop more complex and concentrated flavour profiles. An innovative spinning cone process is also deployed when it comes to removing the alcohol content from the finished product, with the result being that those subtle flavours and aromas synonymous with a good Merlot are left largely intact. As with any good red, this Sutter Home Fre Merlot can be enjoyed as it is, but also goes well with red meat dishes like lamb and beef, as well as pasta dishes and Italian recipes.
This Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon proves you do not have to settle for subpar results from non-alcoholic wine. This first class Cabernet Sauvignon still packs plenty in the way of enticing aromas and full flavours thanks to conventional wine production techniques an ageing methods. You can expect the same oak-aged character of a typical Cabernet Sauvignon here, for example. On the nose, there are rich aromas of blackcurrant and cherry, with these trademark Cabernet Sauvignon elements carrying onto the palate for a richly rewarding flavour. Soft tannins make for a smoother mouthfeel and more delicate flavour, while also helping build toward a dryer, more satisfying finish. With less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, this is a lighter choice of red for those looking to savour a wine that is full of complexity and character, without any of the excess calories and unwanted alcohol content.