Alcohol free wine

Drinks without alcohol are becoming very popular each year for dry january and sober october and among people who don`t want to consume alcohol. In the past years more and more alcohol-free and sparkling wines came on the market. Are they worth trying or should you stay with sparkling water with lemon and ice?

Manufacture of non-alcoholic wines

There are two ways of manufacturing alcohol free wines. The first one is like the production of alcohol-free beer. You take normal wine and remove the alcohol by vacuum distillation.

The second one is to use yeast cultures for the fermentation of the grapes which don`t produce any alcohol. Therefore, you can avoid the vacuum distillation step which is responsible for the loss of part of the aroma.

Which way to produce alcohol free wine is the best?

In the vacuum distillation you loose the alcohol as taste carrier and the volatile part of the wine aroma. This is put back to the alcohol free wine afterwards. Adding a small amount of sugar as taste carrier counters this problem but you get slightly sweeter wines. Despite the added sugar alcohol free wine contains considerably less sugar than the corresponding fruit juice.   

Yeast cultures which don`t produce alcohol during the fermentation of grapes have one big drawback, they don`t produce alcohol. This may sound stupid, but a very important component of the wine aroma are esters. They are formed out of an acid (fruit acid) and alcohol. No alcohol, no ester. Therefore, the second method leaves you with fermented grape juice without the wine aroma with a strongly reduced sugar content compared to fruit juice. Based on the two production processes you lose the most important part of wine, the aroma.

Is alcohol free wine good ?

One can`t compare alcohol free wine to normal wine due to the missing taste carrier. The tasting results are quite sobering in direct comparison. Like alcohol free beer you need to consider alcohol free wine as an own category of drink. Starting from there this may give you some interesting insights into strongly sugar reduced grape juice variations.

Where to buy alcohol free wine ?

You can buy alcohol free wine and sparkling wine at most of your local retailers. Companies and online shops specialising in alcohol free wine are:

Sumarising…

Alcohol free wines are produced by either vacuum distillation from normal wine or non-alcoholic fermentation. This yields products which have different tastes than comparable wines. Consider them as a new category of drink like alcohol free beer. You need to answer the question yourself if they`re worth trying or if you stay with sparkling water with lemon and ice. Enjoy ! 

Christina Day
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