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Inside Knowledge What is Low or No Alcohol Wine?



What is Low or No Alcohol Wine?




In Short:

Most low or no alcohol wines have had some or all of their alcohol removed. However, some wines may come with a naturally low alcohol level.


How is non-alcohol or low-alcohol wine made?

Most conventional wines are around 11-14% ABV (alcohol by volume). However, low alcohol wines will be a little, or sometimes a lot, less – possibly as low as 0.0% ABV.

While some wines are naturally sparse in alcohol, most of the time when we refer to low or no alcohol wines we are talking about wines that have had some or all of their alcohol removed. These wines are first vinified in the normal way, then go through one of several possible de-alcoholisation processes.

One of the most common methods is vacuum distillation, which uses pressure to remove alcohol molecules from the wine while still preserving the liquid’s delicate aromas and flavours. Each method used for de-alcoholising wine is slightly different, but in most cases sugar and other flavours are added back into the wine after it has been processed. These give the finished product a more convincing body, mimicking a drinking experience closer to the ‘real’ thing.


How do they taste?

While often delicious, given the technology available at the moment, no and low alcohol wines cannot taste exactly like normal ones. That’s because some aromas, flavours and structure leave along with the alcohol during the vacuum distillation process.

But de-alcoholised wines are getting better and better, and today it’s perfectly possible to get a great-tasting bottle that is enjoyable if you either choose not to drink or cannot do so.

Low and no alcohol wines can taste especially convincing when mixed with other ingredients: splash it into a spritz, top with juice for a Buck’s Fizz or pair with fruit to make a Sangria.

As an added bonus, low and no alcohol wines can be much cheaper too, with the average bottle coming in well under £10. If you fancy a bit of non-alcoholic fizz, try Noughty Organic Sparkling Chardonnay 0%, which has flavours of green apples and fine bubbles. Or, if you prefer a juicy low-alcohol red, try Vina Albali Cabernet Tempranillo 0.5% from Spain.


Choosing your regular wine to have lower ABV?

Some wines are naturally low in alcohol. White or sparkling wines from cooler regions – such as Germany or England – may come in at between 6 and 11% ABV, well below the usual 12-15% range. Sweet wines, too, are usually lower in alcohol. This is because alcohol is produced from grape sugars, and if fermentation is stopped part way through, wines will naturally end up with higher levels of sweetness and lower levels of
alcohol.

These wines can be a great middle ground if you don’t want a wine that has been de-alcoholised, but still want to avoid anything too punchy. For a great example of a naturally lower-alcohol wine, try Kendermanns Riesling Kabinett from Germany, which is only 8.5% alcohol and fragrant with aromas of peach, apple and grapefruit. Or try a dessert wine, like Royal Tokaji ‘Gold Label’ 6 Puttonyos 2016 from Hungary, with rich aromas of citrus and mango.


Summary

Low and no alcohol wines are made by manually removing alcohol from normal wine using technical processes. Their quality is improving all the time, but they are already a delicious alternative for designated drivers or non-drinkers who would like to sip a flavourful low-ABV alternative to conventional wine.




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