The phrase "nonalcoholic wine" may sound counterintuitive, though sometimes it’s exactly what the evening calls for. Among the plethora of reasons to go nonalcoholic (dry January, designated driver, baby on the way, religious reasons, or simply taking a recovery day from a heavy-hitting night prior), one thing’s for sure: taste should never be sacrificed. We’re bringing you a handful of our favorite nonalcoholic choices for times that simply call for a little less booze. But first, what exactly is nonalcoholic wine?
Many consumers think that nonalcoholic wine is simply unfermented grape juice; however, the answer is quite the contrary. “Yeasts and the vinification process are the biggest difference between alcohol-free wine and grape juice,” explains Thierry Cowez, oenologist and dealcoholized winemaker for MIS Services in Belgium. Cowez notes that there’s currently no legal difference between dealcoholized wines (true nonalcoholic wines) and simple grape juice labeled as such, which can cause a bit of confusion for consumers.
According to Cowez, true nonalcoholic / dealcoholized wine is produced from wine that has been fermented with yeasts and has undergone a vinification process, and then has gone through an additional process of having the alcohol removed. All other fruit-based products marketed as nonalcoholic wine are simply juice. For example, our top pick, the Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling, delivers a full spectrum of flavors that can only be achieved through fermentation and vinification. Intrigued? Snag one (or a few) from the below list of the best nonalcoholic wines to drink right now.
Best Overall: Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling
Region: Rheingau, Germany | Body: Light to Medium-bodied | Tasting Notes: Lime, Green apples, Minerals
This zesty, dealcoholized riesling is a favorite amongst industry professionals (including Laura Maniec of Corkbuzz and Christy Frank of Copake Wines), and it’s no surprise why. The wine’s zingy palate oozes with flavors of citrus, lime, green apples and minerals.
“Leitz Eins Zwei Zero sparkling Riesling is a dry, crisp sparkler from the Rheingau that shows off the variety’s full aromatic spectrum, from fresh white flowers to white peach to salty sea spray,” says Chris Raftery, sommelier at Gramercy Tavern, calling the bottle “a delicious, mouthwatering sparkling option that just happens to have no alcohol—and also comes in can!”
Raftery notes that in addition to producing fantastic alcoholic Rieslings, Leitz has also been pioneering non-alcoholic options for almost 15 years. Sip chilled with takeout favorites or simply enjoy solo after a long day at work.
Best Red: Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: California, USA | Body: Full-bodied | Tasting Notes: Black currants, Cherries, Milk chocolate
What’s better than a warming glass of full-bodied cabernet sauvignon? This big-boned bottle oozes with flavors of black currants, meaty cherries, milk chocolate, blackberry skin, and sweet baking spice. Silky tannins and soft acid lead to a dry, palate-coating finish. Despite all the classic cab flavors, this wine has less than 0.5% ABV. Sip with juicy steaks or hearty lentil stews.
Related: The Best Napa Cabernet Sauvignons
Runner-Up, Best Red: Fre Merlot
Region: California, USA | Body: Medium to Full-bodied | Tasting Notes: Black plums, Cherries, Sweet spice
Forget what you thought you knew about merlot—this dealcoholized version will surely change your mind. Silky flavors of black plums, cherries, and sweet spice jump from the wine’s rich and velvety palate. This bottle is a natural pairing with a dinner party, where the classically-styled red will pair nicely with a variety of heartier dishes and flavors on the table. Serve with mushrooms, sharp cheeses, red meats, vegan stews, and more.
Related: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers
Best White: Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 0% Alcohol
Region: Marlborough | Body: Light-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Currant
Although best known for their full-alcohol sauvignon blanc, Giesen’s 0% bottling is produced with just as much TLC as the boozy stuff. To create this wine, Giesen takes their full-strength sauvignon blanc and uses spinning cone technology to gently extract the alcohol from the wine. The resulting product is just as aromatic and flavor-packed as the original wine, just without the booze. Expect flavors of lime, citrus rind, and passionfruit that lead to a textbook zesty and dry finish.
Runner-Up, Best White: Luminara Alcohol-Removed Chardonnay
Region: Napa Valley, California | Body: Medium to Full-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Green apple, Tropical fruit, Lemon cream
Looking to fulfill your chardonnay craving sans booze? This alcohol-removed chardonnay is just the ticket.
Produced in the heart of California’s Napa Valley, this dealcoholized wine offers flavors of green apple, tropical fruit, and lemon cream. Aging in both French and American oak provide hints of sweet baking spice, which lead to a long and luminous finish. Serve with cheese boards, seared scallops, or poultry-based dishes.
Best Sparkling: Codorníu Zero Brut Alcohol-Free
Region: Penedès, Spain | Body: Medium-bodied | Tasting Notes: Lemon skin, Stone fruit, Honey
Codorniu has long been a leading producer of cava, so it makes sense that their dealcoholized sparkler is just as delicious. On the palate, notes of lemon skin, white stone fruit, honey, and citrus rind lead to a pleasantly lingering finish. Serve nicely chilled with fresh seafood, salads, or crudité platters.
“Once you remove the alcohol, the beverage reminds you of wine, although it doesn’t taste exactly like it,” explains Cowez, who reveals that dealcoholized wines are generally ‘rebuilt’ with natural flavors and oenological products to replicate the elements lost during distillation.
Related: The Best Wine Fridges
Best Rosé: St. Regis Nonalcoholic Shiraz Rosé
Region: France | Body: Medium to Full-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Red currants, Raspberries, Citrus
Not just for summer anymore, rosé has been embraced by wine-drinkers as a year-round go-to for pairing with a diversity of cuisines—and this alcohol-free rosé promises to satisfy an array of palate preferences, no matter how picky the crowd. Notes of red currants, raspberries, and citrus jump from the wine’s zesty palate, which leads to a mouth-coating, lingering finish. Sip chilled with smoked ham with melon, crab cakes, or fried appetizers. For a taste of sunshine any time of the year, look no further than this bottle.
Best Off-Dry: Noughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling White Wine
Region: Spain | Body: Medium-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Ripe apple, Pear
Crafted from chardonnay grown in the sunny south of Spain, this alcohol-free sparkling wine presents just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy those looking for something off-dry. Flavors of ripe apple and pear dominate the wine’s pleasantly fizzy palate, whose finish is energetic, refreshing, and just a tad sweet. Pop at your next at-home happy hour or during weekend brunches with friends for a bubbly, booze-free drinking sesh.
Best for Brunch: Freixenet Sparkling Alcohol-Removed Wine
Region: Penedès, Spain | Body: Light-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Tropical fruit, Lemon zest
“The fundamentals in producing superior wine, including Freixenet Alcohol-Removed, are quality grapes and winemaking expertise,” says Greg Berumen, VP of Marketing at Freixenet Mionetto USA, noting that laborious techniques are used during the alcohol removal process to ensure that fruit-forward flavors and freshness are not sacrificed.
Brunch and bubbles go hand in hand, and this newly released bottle from Freixenet is a great option. This particular cuvée was first launched in 2011, after two years of winemaking trials and extensive market research. The wine’s bubbly palate is loaded with flavors of ripe citrus, tropical fruits, and lemon zest. Persistent mousse and well-balanced residual sugar lead to a vibrant finish. Serve chilled with brunch favorites—and don’t feel bad splashing a little fresh-squeezed juice into your flute as well.
“We wanted everyone to be able to celebrate all of life’s moments, both big and small, in a way that fits with their lifestyle,” says Enore Ceola, CEO of Freixenet Mionetto USA. “This is why we decided it was our responsibility to apply our sparkling winemaking expertise to produce two premium alcohol-removed sparkling options: a Sparkling White and a Sparkling Rosé.” Ceola explains that with these new bottles, consumers “can still hear the celebratory ‘pop’ of a wine bottle and enjoy a glass of alcohol-removed sparkling without compromising on taste or experience.”
Best for the Holidays: Codorníu Zero Rosé Alcohol-Free
Region: Penedès, Spain | Body: Light to Medium-Bodied | Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Red fruit
Bubbles and holiday parties go hand in hand, and what better way to amp up the festivities than with a pop of color? Produced in Spain, this sparkling rosé from Codorniu shows flavors of strawberries and red fruits that promise to please lovers of rosé and bubbles everywhere. Stash a few of these in the fridge and ensure that all of your booze-free bases are covered for last-minute gifts, parties, and impromptu celebrations—you’ll thank us later.
Related: The Best Nonalcoholic Beers
“To keep up with the latest in non-alcoholic options, follow industry leaders (Julia Bainbridge, The Zero Proof, Han Suk Cho), and check out some amazing NA bottle shops that have recently opened over the past couple years (like Boisson and Spirited Away in NYC). There are so many exciting things happening in this space. It's a great time to take a break, for whatever reason!”
— Chris Raftery, sommelier at Gramercy Tavern
No matter how dry or sweet you like your wine, there’s a non-alcoholic option available in nearly every color. While the experts seem to agree that Leitz (view at Vivino) is putting out the highest-quality products, we found that Codorniu sparkling (view at Total Wine) and Giesen sauv blanc (view at Total Wine) are equally respectable options.
What to Look For
When seeking out non-alcoholic wine, look for products that actually go through the dealcoholization process. These wines are actually alcohol-removed wines, as opposed to grape juice that’s marketed as such. Note: Most dealcoholized wines will have traces of alcohol, but generally no more than 0.5%.
How is non-alcoholic wine made?
True non-alcoholic wine is made via the dealcoholization process, meaning that grapes are fermented, vinified, and created into a fully alcoholic product, then the alcohol is removed via a handful of potential ways (vacuum distillation and reverse osmosis being the most popular). Non-alcoholic "wine" that has not gone through the fermentation, vinification, and dealcoholization processes is simply fancy grape juice relabeled and marketed as such.
How long does non-alcoholic wine last after opening?
Unopened, non-alcoholic wine’s shelf life is much shorter than its alcoholic counterparts. Generally speaking, these bottles only last for one or two years. Once the bottle's open, experts recommend consuming non-alcoholic wine within a few days—just like the alcoholic version.
Are there any trace amounts of alcohol in non-alcoholic wine?
Generally speaking, yes, though in very minimal amounts (and dependent on how the "wine" was made). Real non-alcoholic wines—i.e. wines produced via the dealcoholization process—will tend to have traces of alcohol in them, though certainly not enough to offer a buzz. On the contrary, non-alcoholic "wine" produced without a fermentation and vinification process will have zero alcohol content whatsoever—which makes sense, given that these products are simply grape juice with a fancier label.
What is the best way to store non-alcoholic wine?
Non-alcoholic wines should be stored away from direct sunlight and should avoid any drastic temperature swings. We recommend simply throwing them in the fridge and serving at your desired temperature.
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This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, who has worked as a sommelier at numerous California restaurants featuring excellent wine programs. He has also worked as a wine educator for corporate groups and wine-tasting clubs.
Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist who splits her time between New York and Paris. Her work regularly appears in major industry publications. She is the content creator and social media manager for a list of prestigious clients, including Sopexa, Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman, Volcanic Selections, Le Du’s Wines, Windmill Wine & Spirits and Corkbuzz. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine.