Whether you call it non-alcoholic wine, dealcoholized wine or alcohol-free wine, this guide will satisfy your curiosity and answer the pressing questions you may have about non-alcoholic wines. It contains all you need to know about non-alcoholic wine and will help you understand what non-alcoholic wine is, how it’s made and what it tastes like.
We answer some frequently asked questions about alcohol-free wine, including whether alcohol-free wine is healthy, if you can cook with it and if it expires. We also talk about the sober curious movement and what you should know about being sober curious.
Table of Contents
- What Is in Non-Alcoholic Wine?
- How Is Alcohol-Free Wine Made?
- What Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Taste Like?
- Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Expire?
- Is Non-Alcoholic Wine the Same as Grape Juice?
- Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Contain Any Alcohol?
- What is the Sober Curious Movement?
- What are the Health Benefits of Non-Alcoholic Wine?
- What are Some of the Best Examples of Alcohol-Free Wine?
- How Do You Order Alcohol-Free Wines Online From Marketview Liquor?
What Is Alcohol-Free Wine?
Alcohol-free or non-alcoholic wine refers to a wine with very little to no alcohol in it or regular wine with its alcohol content removed. Because the alcohol-removing process is not 100% perfect, non-alcoholic wines can contain a small amount of alcohol. However, the quantity of alcohol in them is so small it can be regarded as non-existent.
What Is in Non-Alcoholic Wine?
Alcohol-free wine contains almost everything in regular wine, except alcohol. The manufacturing process of non-alcoholic wine follows the same manufacturing process as regular wine but with an extra dealcoholization process to remove the alcohol.
The best non-alcoholic wines have the same flavor, tastes, texture, structure, mouthfeel, notes and scent as their counterparts with alcohol.
What Is Non-Alcoholic Wine Made Of?
Non-alcoholic wine is made of grapes, just like regular alcoholic wine. Also, just like regular alcoholic wine, they can be made of different varieties of grape. For example, the Ariel Chardonnay is made from chardonnay grapes in California.
How Is Alcohol-Free Wine Made?
Non-alcoholic wines go through the same winemaking or vinification process of crushing, fermentation and aging that regular alcoholic wines go through. However, one last step is introduced to remove the alcohol from the wine — a process known as dealcoholization.
The Vinification Process
Generally, winemaking follows the three steps explained below. The process is the same for non-alcoholic and regular wine.
1. Harvesting and Crushing
The vintner or winemaker harvests the grapes from the vineyard, separates the fruits from any leaves or vines and crushes or presses the fruits to get the grape juice. The substance obtained is called a must.
2. Fermentation and Alcohol Formation
Depending on whether the vintner is making red or white wine, they may remove any seeds, skin and stems from the grape juice. These items produce the most tannins, which are responsible for the dryness of a wine. For red wine, the winemaker leaves the seeds, skin and stems to ferment with the grape juice, but for white wine, the winemaker separates these items out.
Then the vintner leaves the wine to ferment. In the process of fermentation, yeast converts the sugar content in the grape juice to alcohol to produce the wine. The vintner adds different types of yeast depending on the flavors they want to achieve. The wine ferments for as long as the winemaker wants. For example, if they want to reserve some sweetness to the wine, they stop the fermentation early, before all the yeast eats all the sugar. For a drier wine, the grape juice sits through the complete fermentation process until the yeast has converted all the sugar into alcohol.
The fermentation process typically starts between six and 18 hours after the grapes are crushed and can last for one or more months based on the amount of alcohol the winemaker wants. Once fermentation is complete, the wine can contain as much as 14% alcohol by volume (ABV).
The process of fermentation also produces different aromas, flavors and tastes in the wine, which together are called the wine’s bouquet. The alcohol typically carries most of a wine’s bouquet.
3. Aging and Maturation
To change the bouquet of the wine, some winemakers leave the wine to mature in a process called aging.
Vintners age wine by putting it into oak barrels, stainless steel tanks or bottles and leaving it to mature. The process of maturing introduces new aromas and flavors and balances the wine’s taste. The tannins and the body of the oak barrels also contribute to the aging process of the wine.
Aging can take as long as the winemaker needs to get the needed taste and texture. These factors are also called the mouthfeel and the physical characteristics of the wine in the mouth. For white wines, aging is typically not more than a few months, while aging often goes for 18 to 24 months for red wine. Besides the addition of grape skins, the duration of aging and the presence of tannins is the major difference between how white wine and how red wine is made.
Fermented grape juice intended for non-alcoholic wine can also undergo aging. This process is why most non-alcoholic wines can possess the same flavor and mouthfeel as regular alcoholic wine. For example, the Sutter Home Fre White Zinfandel possesses the same body and dryness as its regular alcoholic counterpart.
For regular wine, the process ends here. The vintner bottles the wine and ships it off. For non-alcoholic wine, the wine goes through one more step to remove the alcohol called dealcoholization.
The Alcohol-Removing Process
There are several different ways of removing or separating alcohol from wine — or from any fluid at all. The process of separating alcohol from wine was first invented at the end of the 20th century. However, the process has since undergone a lot of improvements and modifications.
Since alcohol transports a lot of a wine’s flavors, the major challenge of dealcoholization is removing the alcohol without destroying, removing or altering the flavors, aromas, tastes, mouthfeel, balance and overall quality of the wine. Based on how precise the dealcoholization process is, there might still be a small fraction of alcohol left in the wine. Generally, non-alcoholic wines contain below 0.5% ABV. The very fine non-alcoholic wines can have 0.05% alcohol and sometimes — but rarely — 0.0% ABV.
Here are the three most common dealcoholization processes.
1. The Distillation Method
When using the distillation method, the winemaker heats the wine to a high temperature to evaporate the alcohol from the wine. For this to work, the mixture must be heated to the boiling point of ethanol, the specific type of alcohol present in wines. Ethanol boils at 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the problem with this high-temperature method is that some of the flavors and aromas in the wine can also evaporate or change through a process called oxidation. This can greatly affect the quality, taste and flavor of the final product.
To combat oxidation, winemakers heat the wine in a closed and airtight space or a vacuum. In a vacuum, the boiling temperature of ethanol drops to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the alcohol evaporates, but the flavors and aromas in the wine stay intact. Distillation in a vacuum removes the alcohol but preserves the other qualities of a wine. Additionally, the alcohol can be collected and reused for other purposes.
2. The Reverse Osmosis or Filtration Method
Instead of heat, the reverse osmosis method uses pressure and a membrane to separate the alcohol from the wine.
The reverse osmosis method uses a very thin membrane or filter to separate alcohol from the rest of the wine. With this method, the winemaker pushes the wine mixture through a filter at high pressure. The holes in the membranes are so small that only alcohol and water molecules can pass through. The alcohol and water mixture is collected on one side of the filter, leaving the concentrated non-alcoholic wine on the other side. The winemaker then uses distillation to separate the alcohol from the water and adds the water back into the wine concentrate.
3. Spinning Cone Method
The spinning cone method uses a column of cones placed in a centrifuge to separate the alcohol from the wine.
Using this method, the winemaker puts the wine into the cones in the centrifuge and spins the centrifuge at a very high speed. This movement creates a centrifugal force that separates the wine into thin layers. The winemaker then introduces nitrogen gas into the cones to remove all the aromas and other wine components, leaving the water and alcohol in the cones. To separate the water from the alcohol, the winemaker spins the cones again at a higher temperature, then adds the water back to the wine.
What Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Taste Like?
Alcohol-free wine tastes like regular wine in many ways. They go through the same vinification process as regular wine, so non-alcoholic wines can have flavors, aromas, dryness, tastes and mouthfeel just like regular wine. However, because alcohol is the transporting medium of some of these bouquets, they may be slightly less intense.
For example, a non-alcoholic variant of a regular wine may be thinner and lighter in the mouth than the regular wine. Also, based on whether the winemaker added grape juice to the dealcoholize wine, non-alcoholic wine may be sweeter than their alcoholic counterpart of the same varietal. You may also experience more fruity flavors or different types of aromas. For example, the non-alcoholic Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon is full-body and possesses a similar taste and dryness as regular red wine.
Most of the time, alcohol-free wine tastes the same as regular wine. Whether non-alcoholic wine tastes good depends on your taste and preference for wine.
Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Expire?
Yes, non-alcoholic wine expires. Alcohol-free wine doesn’t last as long as regular alcoholic wine because the alcohol — which is a natural preservative — in the wine has been removed. Thus non-alcoholic wine lacks the long-lasting property that regular wine possesses.
So, you should finish a bottle of non-alcoholic wine after opening it. If you cannot finish it and have to keep it for later, reseal and refrigerate it. Be sure to finish the wine within the next two to three days if you want to enjoy the freshness.
Is Alcohol-Free Wine the Same as Grape Juice?
The simple answer is no. Grape juice and alcohol-free wine are two different beverages. While alcohol-free wines undergo the complete vinification process and can possess the body, flavor, texture, dryness and aroma of their alcoholic counterparts, grape juice is simply juice extracted directly from grapes by pressing and bottled without fermentation, aging or any such winemaking processes. Grape juice does not undergo any vinification process, does not have the aroma, flavor or taste of regular wine and generally is sweeter than alcohol-free wine.
Because of this mistaken similarity, you may end up buying one instead of the other.
How Can You Ensure You’re Not Buying Grape Juice?
Because grape juice and non-alcoholic wine do not contain alcohol, you can easily mistake them for each other and end up buying a bottle of grape juice instead of wine.
To ensure you actually buy wine and not just an overly expensive bottle of sweet grape juice, look for words like “non-alcoholic wine,” “alcohol-free wine,” “alcohol removed” or “dealcoholized wine” on the label before buying.
Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Contain Any Alcohol?
There is alcohol in non-alcoholic wine, but so little it can be officially classified as non-alcoholic. For example, the Freixenet Alcohol Removed White contains 0.00% to 0.05% ABV, and the Sutter Home Fre Chardonnay contains under 0.5% ABV.
Non-alcoholic wine generally contains less than 0.5% ABV. This amount is much less than low-alcoholic wine, which typically contains about 1.2% ABV, and regular wine, which ranges from 13% to 14% ABV.
What Is the Sober Curious Movement?
What is sober curious? You become sober curious when you decide to avoid consuming alcohol for personal reasons. Not everyone who avoids drinking alcohol has an alcohol problem. Perhaps you are concerned about your drinking even though it hasn’t gotten to the stage of addiction or dependence.
The sober curious movement promotes being more intentional about your drinking habits, why you drink and how you drink. Ruby Warrington coined the term for the title of her 2018 book. The sober curious movement is meant to help people step back and evaluate how alcohol affects their lives and what they can do to control their alcohol intake.
For sober-curious people who may still enjoy the smell and taste of wine, non-alcoholic wine can help them on their path to cutting down on their alcohol consumption. Being curious about your sobriety can help you mitigate the health risks that come from alcohol consumption and set you on a path to health and emotional control.
Health Benefits of Non-Alcoholic Wine
Non-alcoholic wine has many of the same health benefits as alcoholic wine without the risks associated with consuming alcohol, as well as additional benefits you can only get with alcohol-free wine.
- Non-alcoholic wines reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases: Like alcoholic wines, non-alcoholic wines contain polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants help to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and the possibility of cancer. Numerous studies have linked antioxidants to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Grape skins contain the highest concentration of polyphenols compared to the rest of the fruit, so red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine since winemakers leave the skins, stems and seeds in the mix when red wine ferments.
- Non-alcoholic wines contain fewer calories: On average, regular alcoholic wine contains about 24 calories per fluid ounce, while non-alcoholic wine can contain as little as 1.7 calories per fluid ounce. This means a very good varietal of non-alcoholic wine produced properly allows you to enjoy the same flavor, taste and fun without all the calories. Fewer calories means alcohol-free wine can be a good alternative for people who want to watch their weight without giving up their favorite wine.
- Non-alcoholic wines are less intoxicating: Non-alcoholic wines provide almost the same taste as regular wine with minimal possibility of becoming intoxicated. This is because non-alcoholic wines generally contain a fraction of a percent of alcohol. Since there is almost no alcohol in these wines, it is nearly impossible to get intoxicated drinking non-alcoholic wine.
Best Examples of Alcohol-Free Wine
What is the best alcohol-free wine? Below we share 10 good non-alcoholic wines you can purchase.
- Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon (Non-Alcoholic): With less than 0.5% of alcohol and processed with just the right amount of tannins, the Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon non-alcoholic red wine comes with the same full-body, dryness and taste of regular red wine.
- Ariel Chardonnay (Non-Alcoholic): The Ariel Chardonnay non-alcoholic white wine possesses sweet fruity flavors of buttery apple, butterscotch and a hint of lemon. This non-alcoholic wine has the same taste as regular alcoholic chardonnays.
- Freixenet Alcohol Removed Rosé: This sparkling wine provides the full mouthfeel of the regular alcoholic variant. Freixenet Non-Alcoholic Rosé has a fruity, fresh taste and characteristic aromas to the palate.
- Freixenet Alcohol Removed White: This non-alcoholic sparkling wine contains 0.00% to 0.05% ABV and provides a lively feel and fruity flavor that fills the mouth.
- Sutter Home Fre White Zinfandel: This non-alcoholic variety of the Sutter Home White Zinfandel provides the feel and flavors of its regular counterpart without the alcohol content.
- Sutter Home Fre Red Blend: This non-alcoholic red blend from Sutter Home is produced using the spinning cone dealcoholization method. The Sutter Home Fre Red Blend wine provides a black cherry aroma, strong flavors and a long finish.
- Sutter Home Fre Chardonnay: This non-alcoholic Chardonnay contains less than 0.5% alcohol and offers a light body with various fresh tropical fruit flavors. It pairs well with lighter meals like chicken, fish and pasta dishes with white sauce.
- Sutter Home Fre Brut: This non-alcoholic sparkling wine provides a delightful alternative to both traditional sparkling wines and sparkling juices. The Sutter Home Fre Brut offers a pleasantly dry aftertaste with crisp fruit flavors and fresh aromas.
- Sutter Home Fre Merlot: Like regular alcoholic merlots, the Sutter Home Fre Merlot alcohol removed wine provides fruity flavors, a cherry aroma and a smooth mouthfeel that pairs easily with your favorite meals.
- Sutter Home Fre Moscato: This non-alcoholic wine comes with a creamy flavor with pleasant aromas of rose petals and sweetness.
Order Alcohol-Free Wines Online From Marketview Liquor
Marketview Liquor stocks the best quality non-alcoholic wines and can deliver them to your doorstep. Because the world of non-alcoholic wine can be confusing, especially if you’re new to it, we provide a simple and easy-to-navigate catalog on our website that allows you to filter by many different factors, including price, varietals, type, taste notes, meal and ABV content.
Browse our catalog of non-alcoholic wine to find just the perfect fit for your meal, party or taste, and then order a bottle or case online. We ship to 45 states, and you can trust us to get your wine to you when you want it.