If you love wine (same), but want to cut down or skip the alcohol altogether, good news: Non-alcoholic wine is very much a thing. And nope, it’s not just grape juice. In fact, it could play a huge role in the future of wine. It already accounts for about 73% of the market — online sales for non-alcoholic wine majorly increased in 2021, even surpassing those of alcoholic beverages. It’s also a nice option to have, whether you suffer from alcohol use disorder, want to kick a pandemic drinking habit, opt out for religious reasons, or just want to drink smarter (read: take a few weeks off from drinking).
What even is non-alcoholic wine?
It's just wine that’s gone through a dealcoholization process. Meaning, the alcohol is literally removed by one of a couple of possible methods. But the drink goes through the same fermentation process as regular wine at first.
Weird question, but…Is there alcohol in non-alcoholic wine?
While it’s commonly referred to as “non-alcoholic” wine, most still contain up to .5% ABV — similar to the kombucha in your fridge. Which could be an issue if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (more on that below). Or if you’re in recovery from alcohol use disorder, and don’t want even a small amount of alcohol.
Got it. So how exactly is non-alcoholic wine made?
There are two main dealcoholization methods.
Vacuum distillation: The wine is heated to the point where it is no longer alcoholic.
Reverse osmosis: The wine is run through a teeny tiny filter that literally separates the alcohol molecules, water molecules, and wine flavor. Then the water and wine molecules are mixed back together, leaving it alcohol-free.
Since the alcohol in wine creates a specific taste (thanks to the aromas), non-alcoholic winemakers try to recreate that taste in other ways. One example: Sugar is usually added to low-alcohol and non-alcoholic wine to replace the “mouthfeel” that you get from “regular” wine.
But I’m guessing it’s better for you than standard wine?
You got that right. We hardly have to list the reasons why drinking alcohol isn’t great for your health. But here are a few of the big ones: increased risk of heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and accidents. Not to mention increased anxiety. (Plus, cutting down on drinks does wonders for your skin — take it from J.Lo). Swapping that alcoholic red you love for its non-alcoholic counterpart can reduce a lot of health risks.
And speaking of red wine, some studies are questioning the theory that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart. According to one study, non-alcoholic wine reduced blood pressure and the risk of heart disease among participants more so than alcoholic wine. And the alcohol could actually be hindering those health benefits. Sorry.
Is non-alcoholic wine safe for pregnancy?
It might sound like the perfect drink for someone pregnant or breastfeeding. But medical experts still advise avoiding non-alcoholic beverages if you’re pregnant. Because non-alcoholic wine can still contain up to .5% alcohol. And there’s still not enough information out there about how it could affect your baby.
Are there any side effects?
If you’re trying to avoid hangovers (who isn’t?), non-alcoholic wine is a good option. Since alcohol causes hangovers from dehydration, irritating the lining of the stomach, and causing blood vessels to expand (leading to headaches). But if you’re looking to skip the wine headaches altogether, those might not go away. Because wine headaches are typically caused by tannins (found in both red and white wines, but higher in reds) and histamines (the things that give you allergies in the spring, and also found in wine).
So should I make the switch?
That one’s up to you. Non-alcoholic wine could be a good idea if:
You’ve noticed an increase in the “urge” to drink (thanks, pandemic).
It’s negatively impacting your behavior at work or at home.
You look to wine (or alcohol in general) when you’re anxious.
You’ve had a lot to drink lately and you just want a break.
You just feel like it might be a good idea. Hey, you know you best. If you think it’s a good idea, it probably is.
Ready to swap out the bottles in your wine fridge? Presenting: 10 non-alcoholic wines to try now.
10 non-alcoholic wines worth trying:
A white wine perfect for summer patio dinners...
It’s citrusy (lime), fruity (apple), and a little earthy, too. Get this if you love to eat shellfish, spicy food, or pork. Because it pairs well with all three. But won’t make you sleepy. ($19.99, Leitz Eins Zwei Zero).
An alcohol-free sparkling rosé...
Most non-alcoholic wine is made with added sugar to make up for the texture and taste that’s lost during the dealcoholization process. If that added sugar is a concern for you, allow us to introduce this non-alcoholic rosé which has less sugar than other non-alcoholic wines. And the sparkling factor is ideal for special occasions. ($22, Thomsom & Scott).
A red that basically tastes like the real thing...
Reviewers claim this is one of the best low-alcohol reds out there. “The aroma on this is incredible,” writes one reviewer. “I was very impressed. Taste-wise, I appreciated that this wasn't sweet and was well balanced.” Pro tip: Let it breathe once you pop the cork before sipping. ($19.99, Luminara).
The perfect alcohol-free park hang beverage...
This non-alcoholic chardonnay is just sweet enough and not too dry. And it has notes of apples. So it’s fruity and fresh enough for your summer park hang. ($21.99, Thomson & Scott).
A flavorful non-alcoholic cab...
If a cabernet is your preferred wine, meet its non-alcoholic companion. It retains the robust flavor, but without the hangover. You’re welcome. ($14.99, Hill Street Vin (Zero)).
An ideal non-alcoholic wine for heavy dinners...
This alcohol-free merlot is full of juicy berry flavors. It goes best with heavier dishes (think: stews, spaghetti, lamb chops). ($8.99, Fre Merlot).
A budget-friendly sparkling cider...
A non-alcoholic beverage under $5? Sign us up. Bring a bottle to a party next time you want to celebrate without worrying about missing out on alcohol. ($3.46, Martinelli's).
A summertime peach-flavored non-alcoholic wine...
If the traditional grape-based flavors aren’t your thing, say hello to your ideal peach-flavored non-alcoholic wine. It’s fruity but not too sweet and ideal for hot summer evenings. ($9.99, Stella Rosa).
A four-pack of alcohol-free prosecco...
If you don’t want to mess around with champagne glasses or lugging around a big bottle, opt for this alcohol-free prosecco which comes in a four-pack. Ideal for picnics, brunch, showers, or just enjoying an alcohol-free drink without opening a whole bottle. ($16.99, Grüvi).
The perfect non-alcoholic celebration drink...
Love to toast but don’t want the buzz? Add this non-alcoholic champagne to your cart ASAP. It’s great for holiday parties, work events, or any time you want to raise a glass with zero percent alcohol. (And P.S. because this one doesn’t even have the usual .5% alcohol content, it’s pregnancy-safe. Bottoms up.). ($23.67, Chateau De Fleur).
If you’re not drinking for any number of reasons, you’re no longer stuck with soda or seltzer (no offense, La Croix). Non-alcoholic wine is on the rise, and it almost tastes like the real thing. Happy sipping.
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