These Are the Best Alcohol-Free Wines—I Know Because I Tried Them All
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If you're a wine lover and want to cut back on alcohol, try these relatively healthy alcohol-free wines to replace your favorite glass.
Connecting without the alcohol
Whether you’re a daily drinker or reserve imbibing for special occasions, it can be tempting to think that alcohol forges connections. Intoxication does lower inhibitions, but that doesn’t mean drunken confessions or alcohol-fueled fun deepen friendships or relationships over the long haul. Drinking too much can cause physical and social damage. (These are the effects of binge drinking.)
There are many reasons to limit alcohol, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This winter, many people are likely abstaining from alcohol to get healthier and strengthen their relationships while social distancing. (Here’s how to stay human during Covid-19 quarantine.)
“I’ve actually seen more people moving towards being sober (this year) because they see how easily they could go the other way,” says New Jersey-based nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto, RD, Dietetic Internship Director at New York University’s Steinhardt School. “People are realizing they can connect with people they care about without the booze, and that’s an amazing thing.” (Here’s how to stay sober during quarantine, according to the experts.)
Is wine healthy?
If you drink regularly, you’ve probably wondered if there’s a chance alcohol is good for you. Or perhaps you’ve wondered how much alcohol is too much. Health experts don’t all agree on the benefits of wine. Rissetto says the verdict is still out on whether wine is beneficial to your diet, as a 2018 study in Molecules suggests.
“There are antioxidant properties with regards to grapes, which we can translate into cardiovascular health, but we aren’t exactly sure what that exactly means,” she says. “Moreover, there are negatives to alcohol in general.” Rissetto says alcohol consumption has been linked to certain cancers and worsening mental health issues such as depression. (Next, read the signs you need Dry January.)
Reasons to drink alcohol-free wine
Red wine, in particular, is known for its heart-healthy antioxidants. However, there are clear benefits to skipping your evening wine ritual. The longer you abstain from alcohol, the more likely you are to notice improvements in your health.
Try month-long challenges such as “Sober October” or “Dry January” to gauge the way your body responds to a break from wine. (Here, doctors weigh in with some Dry January advice.)
Rissetto predicts several long-term benefits to giving up wine for a season—or a lifetime. In terms of physical health, she mentions better sleep and potential weight loss. But the real benefits are mental and emotional.
“When you give up alcohol, you start to find joy in the things around you. And you also are able to cope more with adversity,” Rissetto says.
“Previously, maybe you reached for wine to numb the feelings—without substances, you have to feel whatever is going on and deal with them head-on,” she says. (These are the things that happen when you stop drinking alcohol.)
Wrapping up an alcohol-free month
When I decided to participate in “Sober October” earlier this year, I expected to crave my evening glass of wine. I did, but I also found that the ritual of sipping my way through dinner was more important than the type of liquid in my glass.
By the end of the month, I had a solid list of the best no-alcohol mocktails and the best alcoholic-free spirits. I’d even ventured into alcohol-free beers despite my general lack of interest in ales and lagers. Because wine is my alcohol of choice, it was the hardest to enjoy in non-alcoholic form. De-alcoholized wine is simply not the same as a robust 15 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) red blend or my favorite 13 percent ABV chardonnay. However, I did find a few worth sipping.
Finding the best alcohol-free wine for you
If you’re ditching alcohol for health reasons, Rissetto recommends paying attention to the sugar content of non-alcoholic wines. “Seems to me (they) could be likened to fruit juices—not bad once in a while, but not ideal on a daily basis,” she says.
Because my no-alcohol season was only temporary, I focused more on finding non-alcoholic wines that were both tasty and widely available to U.S. consumers. The truth is that I didn’t fall in love with any of my options. I found myself much more drawn to non-alcoholic spirits and cocktails than alcohol-free wine.
But if you’re looking for an alcohol-free wine to replace your cabernet sauvignon or to serve to teetotaling guests, the four wines below (and one refreshing alternative) are solid picks.
Élivo Zero Zero Deluxe White
$30 per bottle
Craving a glass of buttery white wine during Dry January? Pick up a bottle of Elivo Zero Zero Deluxe White. This is hands-down my favorite non-alcoholic wine (but I’m also a white wine drinker).
Here’s what I loved: This wine has a pale yellow color reminiscent of pinot grigio, but with the heavier mouthfeel of chardonnay. It’s a great white table wine, non-alcoholic or not. I thought the nose had distinct apple notes, though the producer lists mango and melon. I did taste tropical fruit, with a bit of lingering acidity. Whether you’re cutting back on alcohol yourself or inviting dinner guests who don’t’ imbibe, you won’t go wrong putting this stellar white wine on the table.
FRE Red Blend
$20 per bottle
Sutter Home has an entire line of non-alcoholic wines called FRE. The wines are produced just like any other wine, but the alcohol is removed before bottling. The result is a red wine with a rich ruby hue and a robust, slightly sweet aroma.
This is an unabashedly fruity red blend. You’ll notice strong notes of cranberry and cherry. It’s hard not to miss the biting burn of alcohol, but there is an ever-so-slightly dry finish. If you enjoy fruity, sweet red wines, this might be a winner. It’s slightly sweeter than I prefer, but there’s a satisfying berry punch that goes well beyond children’s fruit juice.
St. Regis Chardonnay
$18 per bottle
Chardonnay is my winter alcohol of choice, so I was eager to try this non-alcoholic variety from St. Regis. The accuracy surprised me. While St. Regis Chardonnay wouldn’t make my list of top wines (the alcoholic kind), I certainly would not send this back at a restaurant. It has a creamy yellow hue and nose like chardonnay. And the flavor strikes a good balance between tart and sweet. Truthfully, all that’s missing is the alcohol.
St. Regis Chardonnay is almost entirely alcohol-free. It contains 0.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), similar to kombucha and other fermented beverages. This is a great non-alcoholic white wine for anyone hoping to cut back on alcohol. Still, the hint of alcohol could be an unhealthy trigger for someone overcoming alcohol addiction. (Here are some kombucha benefits.)
Sparkling Wine: Sparkling Gold Vinada
$24 per bottle
Of the non-alcoholic wines I tried, the sparkling varieties were best. The effervescence helps trick the tongue and make up for the lack of alcohol. Perhaps manufacturers are also better at mimicking a prosecco or brut than a pinot gris or cabernet sauvignon.
Whatever the reason, Sparkling Gold Vinada is the perfect non-alcoholic bottle of bubbly. This sparkling wine from La Mancha, Spain, is crisp and lightly acidic. It’s a well-balanced sparkling wine—ideal for sipping on summer afternoons or popping open on the weekends with a supper of lean fish. Note that though Sparkling Gold Vinada doesn’t contain alcohol, it does contain sulfites.
An alternative: Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower and Rose Lemonade
$15 per bottle
Will this libation trick you into thinking it’s wine? Absolutely not. But it is a strong contender when you’re looking for a non-alcoholic wine-ish bubbly that is suitable for the whole family.
Strong floral notes temper this gentle sparkling lemonade’s sweetness from Belvoir Fruit Farms. The rose extract lends an adult air to classic lemonade. The packaging is also beautiful: an elegant pink label is affixed to what looks like a wine bottle full of sparkling rosé.