At the beginning of this year, I set out on a journey to find the best non-alcoholic wines and wine alternatives. The goal was to put some kind of guide together for Valentine’s Day, and well, here we are mid-April.
I’ve been exploring non-alcoholic drinks and the sober curious lifestyle since last summer, so I know just how the demand for these products is exploding. I’m starting to see alcohol-free beverage shops pop up even here in Indiana.
Yet I still severely underestimated how big of an undertaking “finding the best NA wines” was going to be. Every day I’d scroll by a new, aesthetic NA wine brand popping into my ads – I knew I had to stop somewhere but can you blame me when the marketing is so good?!
After months of NA wine taking over my kitchen counter, I’m finally ready to share the sips I loved most. I did my best to gather some variety so you can find your summer drink, no matter what your “wine type” normally is.
How non-alcoholic wine is made
I have to admit, I always assumed that non-alcoholic wine was just rebranded Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice. After chatting with some brands, I learned a lot about the process of making wine without alcohol.
I was so wrong about the grape juice thing.
Most of the brands I tried were alcohol-removed wine. That means they’re initially made just like “real” wine! First, specially selected grapes are fermented. Then, there are a few common techniques to remove the alcohol:
- Vacuum distillation – The wine is heated to about 85 degrees to gently boil off the alcohol, without disturbing the delicate flavors and aromas.
- Reverse osmosis – Wine is pumped through high pressure, where the alcohol is separated through a semi-permeable membrane.
- Spinning cone technology – Another way to gently remove the alcohol without high temperatures or pressures, so the wine can maintain its flavor.
The final product typically contains less than 0.5% ABV.
Dealcoholized wines have come a long way, and each brand has its own unique technique to make their product special. Many blend with small amounts of fruit juice, or add other flavorings and sweeteners.
Other non-alcoholic wines never contain alcohol to begin with. These are usually comprised of a base (called the “body”) that is often some kind of tea, plus a carefully selected blend of fruits, spices, and acids.
Best White: Surely Sauvignon Blanc
I should disclose that I’m a white wine girly. Sometimes I’ll go for a rosé, but rarely red wine. I’m also very prone to migraines and unfortunately, red wine seems to be a pretty significant trigger for me.
That being said, Surely’s Sauvignon Blanc was not only my favorite non-alcoholic white wine, but possibly my favorite overall.
Flavor: Crisp and tart and I truly don’t think I would have questioned the lack of alcohol if no one told me there wasn’t any.
Composition: Dealcoholized Sauvignon Blanc, pear, guava, and a touch of cane sugar
Pairing: I won’t pretend to be an expert in wine pairings, so I’ll relay what Surely recommends for their NA sauv blanc: A simple salad or chicken entreé, or maybe even a curry, soup, or noodle dish.
Best “True” Red: Lautus Savvy Red
Is “true red” legit sommelier terminology? I seriously doubt it, but you’ll see why I’m specifying in just a second.
Lautus Savvy Red is a dealcoholized Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. This is definitely not as dry as your typical Cab, and I know this because I liked it (sorry traditional Cab, you’re too dry for me).
However, to me, this definitely tasted the most like “real” red wine out of everything I sampled.
Flavor: Red and black berries with a touch of oak
Composition: Shiraz, Pinotage, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: According to Lautus, Savvy Red is best paired with a slow cooked Coq Au Vin or a juicy burger or steak
Proxies Red Ember
My favorite NA red wine alternative.
I should have known this would be one of my favorites when I saw “spicy” on the label. With every sip I took of Proxies Red Ember, I discovered a new layer of flavor and fell more in love.
I filed this red wine alternative separately because it really doesn’t taste like any red wine I’ve had before…but in a good way!
Here’s the flavor journey you’ll experience with Red Ember:
- Cab Sauv grapes with blackberry and blueberry
- Black tea and French oak body
- Spice from black pepper, ginger, coffee, and a cayenne finish
Best Non-Alcoholic Rosé: Sovi Sparkling Rosé
Sovi Sparkling Rosé is delightful AND portable. Canned wine is usually not my thing, but I think this one officially converted me.
There’s no reason for my resistance in the first place, considering I rarely finish a bottle of wine and basically never finish an already open bottle in the fridge.
All that to say, the can is perfect. Sovi’s non-alcoholic rosé is giving girls’ night, day at the lake, and bachelorette weekend. It’s fun, cute, and delicious…and won’t stab you in the back with a crushing hangover. I really appreciate this as someone in my 30s.
Flavor: Bright and dry, with notes of strawberries and cream and red grapefruit
Composition: Pinot Noir, Tempranillo
Pairing: Sovi says this pairs with anything, but is specifically good with charcuterie or salmon salad
Overall, I was truly surprised to find so many non-alcoholic wines and wine alternatives that I enjoyed and would purchase and drink again.
So while these products weren’t at the very top of my list, they were VERY good.
Töst is a sparkling non-alcoholic wine alternative with a white tea base. It’s light, slightly sweet, and refreshing, but I wouldn’t say it tastes like a lot like wine. That’s doesn’t mean it’s not lovely to sip on though.
It comes in two flavors: Töst and Töst Rosé – both were delish but I think the original was my favorite.
Flavor: Crisp citrus with a dry finish
Composition: White tea, white cranberry, ginger, blue agave
Pairing: I think this one could go with basically any savory food, from charcuterie to pizza
Empress Ficus Zing Honey Wine
Empress Wine Alts are different from anything else I tried because they’re fermented brews with a kombucha base. Ficus Zing Honey Wine is the product of Empress’ collaboration with Oslo Brewing Co. It’s technically a mead, which has the composition of beer, but is fermented like a wine.
I could definitely taste the similarities to beer in this wine alternative, but it was still sweet and easy to sip on.
Flavor: Fig, ginger, and honey, with notes of cardamom and cacao
Composition: Kombucha-based honey wine
Proxies Pink Salt
Strawberry rhubarb wine lovers, rejoice!
Proxies Pink Salt is the perfect wine alternative for sipping by the pool or by the fire with friends. It has a white tea base, which makes it slightly sweet and refreshing, but it’s also a little tarte from the hints of fruit.
My favorite part about Pink Salt is the spice. It’s not “spicy” like the Red Ember, but contains Sichuan peppercorn and a hint of sea salt that comes through at the end of each sip.
This is the Proxies take on Rosé and I’m here for it.
Lautus Sparkling Brut
If you’re into Champagne, this zero proof alternative is bubbly and buttery, just like the real thing. It even has a cork you can pop whether you’re celebrating with friends, or just relaxing poolside.
Flavor: Super bubbly with notes of white peach, citrus blossom, and fresh apple.
Pairing: Seafood, celebration
What NA wines did I miss?
Let me know what I should try next in the comments!