When you talk about wines, it is difficult to not think about these not having any alcohol in them. Usually, Wine without alcohol is just grape juice. So what is it with this new trend regarding alcohol-free wine? What are these actually and why are these becoming so popular these days?
Before we tackle the whys and wherefores of alcohol-free wines, let us first understand what it exactly is. As the name implies, these are wines that don’t have any alcohol content in them. These are essentially wines that taste like their regular counterparts but without the intoxication.
Is Alcohol-Free Wine Really Devoid of Alcohol?
One question people probably ask when they are told that the wine they are drinking is alcohol-free is, does it truly have 0% alcohol in it? Is non-alcoholic wine really alcohol free?
Now, you have to understand one thing about these non-alcoholic or alcohol-free wines. While they do not have the alcohol content of their regular counterparts, they are not necessarily 100% free of any traces of alcohol. These wines actually have a bit of alcohol in them, but no more than 0.5%. Anything above 0.5% would be considered alcoholic.
So, why do supposedly non-alcoholic wines still have traces of alcohol in them? This is because of how they are made. So, how are non-alcoholic wines made? Your alcohol-free wine actually started out as regular wine, with all of its alcohol content still in it. It then had to go through a process that took out most of the intoxicating parts.
How Non-alcoholic Wine is Made
The process of turning regular alcoholic wine into the non-alcoholic version comes in two ways--one is filtration and the other is distillation. The filtration technique is a simpler process that uses special filters and equipment that help remove the alcohol content from the wine. This process uses high-pressure to ensure that only the liquid and very little of the wine’s alcohol passes through these filters.
This process is done a few times to ensure that the maximum amount of alcohol from the wine is removed. Once the filtration process is done, the wine is then diluted with water to further reduce the concentration of alcohol that may still be in the liquid. This is when the wine becomes non-alcoholic or alcohol-free.
The second procedure, which uses distillation, uses heat to remove the alcohol from the wine. Kind of like what chefs do when they flambe certain recipes that use vodka or bourbon in them, this method essentially burns off the alcohol.The only difference here is that wine makers who create non-alcoholic versions of their wines use a different heating method that burns off the alcohol without destroying the integrity of the wine.
Heating wine to a boiling point that creates steam can actually destroy it. This is why wine makers had to come up with a method that allows them to steam away the wine’s alcohol content without compromising on the body of the wine itself.
They achieved this by using a special process that utilizes strong vacuums which reduce the boiling point of wine to 70 degrees. They can then make it create steam but without reaching the regular boiling point that causes caramelization and damage to the wine’s body. This distillation method creates wine with almost no alcohol, while leaving all the flavor and color of regular wine.
The main reason why some wine makers add water to their non-alcoholic wines after the removal process is to balance out the wine’s volume and to further dilute any remaining alcohol in the drink. Also worth noting is that while a lot of wine makers use water to do this, a few actually use clear grape juice for the dilution stage to help with the flavor.
The Growing Popularity of Non-Alcoholic Wines
With all the hubbub around these non-alcoholic wines, you tend to ask, why is alcohol-free wine growing in popularity? The answer to this question is pretty simple really. It gives people who love wines a non-alcoholic alternative to their beloved drink.
There are many reasons why people steer clear of alcoholic beverages–some do it because they are on medication, others do it because they are pregnant, still a few more do it because they are trying to kick the habit of drinking alcohol. Whatever reasons a person has for steering clear of alcoholic beverages, these wines help them stay clean and intoxication free without having to miss out on the flavors that they love about wine.
Why You Should Try Alcohol-Free Wine
There are many other reasons to try alcohol-free wine apart from the ones mentioned above. To help you understand why these are becoming a fast favorite among those who want the flavor of wine but none of the alcohol, here are some great reasons why you should start switching:
- No hangover – one of the biggest downsides to consuming alcoholic drinks is what happens the day after. Alcohol usually leaves you with a nasty feeling the next morning. When you consume these wines that have less than .5% alcohol in them, you enjoy the flavor, the company that comes with drinking, and none of the nasty side-effects of alcohol.
- No drunken behavior – another thing you avoid when you drink non-alcoholic wine is you don’t end up doing stuff you know you will regret doing. Since you don’t get intoxicated, you don’t act like a drunken fool, you don’t slur when you talk, and you don’t walk like you have two left feet.
- You can still socialize – one of the reasons people go out drinking is to socialize. If you are avoiding alcohol, you tend to avoid situations where people drink as well. Now, you don’t have to miss out on group outings and hanging out at the bar since you can have something that looks like alcohol in your hand and in your belly.
- You can enjoy the flavor of wine – one reason why people return to drinking wine even though they are trying to avoid the alcohol in it is due to its distinct flavor. If you want to continue enjoying the taste of wine but don’t want to ingest the alcohol that comes with it, this is a great alternative.
Other Good Reasons Why You Should Try Non-alcoholic Wine
Apart from the aforementioned reasons why you should give alcohol-free wine a try, there are other benefits of alcohol-free wine that can be gained by occasional and even regular drinking. Here are some of those benefits:
- Better heart health – you’ve heard of red wine helping improve cardiovascular health, right? Well, the same effect can come from non-alcoholic red wine. Since it is still technically the same wine, sans the intoxication, you get the same amount of polyphenols from this wine as you would from regular red wine. This means you get all the benefits that come from drinking regular red wine such as better heart health, lowered blood pressure, and lowered risk of heart attack as well as strokes.
- Better skin health -- another thing that wine has in abundance is anti-oxidants, and what anti-oxidants do is fight free radicals. Free radicals make your skin look dull and make you look old. When you consume wine, you ingest lots of anti-oxidants, which in turn fight the free radicals. This helps give you better looking skin that does not look old and even makes you feel younger.
- Helps you better control your weight – if you are a big fan of red wine, then chances are, you are taking in a lot of sugar that comes from the wine. These are made out of grapes which are technically made out of fruit sugars, and as such, regular wines have high sugar content. When you reduce your sugar intake, you will find that you can better control your weight and even see some pounds coming off. The reason why non-alcoholic wine can help you with weight loss is because it has less sugar than regular wine due to the filtration and distillation process plus the dilution that happens after.
- Does not dehydrate you – another benefit that you can get from drinking wine that has no alcohol in it is you don’t suffer from the usual dehydration that people suffer the day after they drink regular wine or alcoholic drinks. You don’t need to worry about constantly hydrating while you are enjoying a bottle of alcohol-free wine since these don’t have the same dehydrating effect as alcoholic beverages.
- Can prevent diabetes – red wine is known to have a component called resveratrol, which is said to reduce the body’s insulin resistance. When you drink red wine, you help reduce your chances of diabetes due to resveratrol. Since non-alcoholic wine has essentially the same components as regular wine, it can also help you prevent diabetes by drinking a glass a day.
- Avoid liver damage associated with alcohol drinking – one of the downsides of enjoying wine and other alcoholic beverages is the adverse effects it has on your liver. If you love the taste of wine but don’t want to damage your liver, you should definitely consider non-alcoholic versions of your favorite wine instead.
- Can prevent obesity – since these wines don’t have as much sugar as their regular counterparts, it can help prevent obesity as well with the help of the same component that stops diabetes, which is resveratrol.
- May help prevent Alzheimer’s disease – one of the benefits that come from drinking red wine is its ability to reduce the chances of this disease from developing. This is due to the fact that it lowers not only cholesterol but also protects cells from damage brought on by free radicals. Cell damage is what causes this disease so it is but natural to believe that ingesting wine, or its non-alcoholic counterpart, which is filled with anti-oxidants can help with this.
One question people ask when it comes to this wine and health is whether or not pregnant women can safely drink this wine while expecting. Is non-alcoholic wine safe for pregnant women?The answer to this is yes, but in moderation. Alcohol-free or non-alcoholic wine still has minute traces of alcohol in it so while it is considered safe for pregnant women to drink, it is not totally devoid of any alcohol.
Some say however that it is as safe to drink as any juice that you have at home since most juices have the same amount of alcohol in it, which is 0.5%. This may be true, but you don’t drink two to three bottles of orange juice in one sitting, do you? So the same rule should apply to non-alcoholic wines. While they are as safe to drink by pregnant women and those with alcohol-based health issues, moderation is still the key here.
How Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Taste?
This is where some people tend to become rather iffy when it comes to comparing regular wine with non-alcoholic versions. The taste that you get from regular wines compared to that of alcohol-free ones can and will differ. This is because alcohol does give the wine a distinct body and bouquet that you won’t get with dealcoholized versions.
The difference in flavor is usually more pronounced in red wines due to the dilution of the wine with water. This is probably one of the reasons why some wine makers use grape juice instead of water to balance out the flavor and body of these non-alcoholic wines. For white wines, the taste of the regular ones and the non-alcoholic ones are not too far apart.
So, how do these wines taste like? Some people say that it is a less-sweet version of the original without the sharpness that alcohol sometimes brings to the drink. Others say it can be somewhat flat compared to their alcoholic counterparts and are not as complex in flavor. Still a few say that they taste generally the same but without the body and texture that you get from regular wines.
With that said, can you create your own non-alcoholic wines by simply taking grape juice from your supermarket and diluting it with water? The answer is no. Non-alcoholic wines are made using regular wines, which means these undergo the fermentation process and aging all wines go through, which your grape juice does not.
Types of Alcohol-Free Wines
There are many non-alcoholic wines for you to try out. If there is a regular version of the wine, there is a possibility that there is a non-alcoholic version as well. Some of the most popular alcohol-free wines people enjoy these days include the following:
- Cabernet Sauvignon – this is a red wine that is aged in aged in oak barrels after it is fermented in stainless steel containers. The alcohol in the non-alcoholic versions of this drink is usually removed via cold filtration to preserve the flavor of the drink.
- Chardonnay – this is a non-alcoholic white wine that is considered closest in flavor to its regular counterpart. It is less sweet but still has the flavors of apples, pears, and aroma of oak in it.
- Champagne – who says you can’t have your bubbly without getting drunk? Yes, there is a non-alcoholic version of your favorite light bubbly drink for special occasions and these have the usual fruity flavors associated with it.
- Moscato – another white wine that goes well with seafood and pasta but without the alcohol is this crisp and clear wine with hints of peaches and the tropics in it.
- Sauvignon Blanc – made using green grapes, this white wine is also a great choice for pairing with your favorite pasta, fish dishes, and even poultry.
- Rose Wine – popular among those who love fresh and fruity wines, this pink drink without the alcohol is great for socializing and for pairing with after dinner sweets and desserts. This is also great when paired with salads.
These are just a few of the wines that come with non-alcoholic versions that you can drink if you are thinking of removing alcohol from your system. Most alcoholic drinks can come with a non-alcoholic counterpart, as long as the manufacturers of these drinks use the filtration or distillation process that is used to remove alcohol from wine.
Popular Non-Alcoholic Wine Brands
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there is a lot of good to be had with alcohol-free wine. While it does pale somewhat in comparison with its alcoholic version in terms of body and aroma, it still gives you what you want in terms of flavor and health benefits. In the end, it is a great alternative for those who are trying to recover from alcoholism, for pregnant women who want a glass of wine without worrying about their baby, and for those who simply don’t want the side-effects of alcohol to hit them.
So, drink up and enjoy that glass, since you won’t have to worry about that pounding headache, bad memories of drunken behavior, and dehydration the next morning. And all of this is because your favorite wine can now be had in a non-alcoholic version.
You can shop our entire collection of non-alcoholic wines HERE.