When it comes to non-alcoholic wines, for those who are just entering that realm, things can get confusing and disheartening to start with.
Although the title of the article on the “Tipsy Kitchen” website sounds like an oxymoron, who would be a better judge of the decent non alcoholic wines than someone for whom real wine is one of the greatest passions?
As the name of my blog states – I love my wine. However in the recent months I started noticing symptoms of alcohol intolerance. And although I can still enjoy occasional glass of two, I decided to properly explore alcohol free options available in Australia. I live in Melbourne, but even if your retail opportunities are limited, you can get all of them online.
Previously couple attempts of me trying AF wines ended up in me pouring them down the sink. Having said that, those were cheap “entry level” wines available at the supermarket. I wouldn’t envisage spending more than $10 on something that doesn’t have alcohol. How times have changed since then!
I also found that I couldn’t trust reviews as they were generally as far from the truth as they possibly could be as a lot of reviews are done either by those who are a long term non drinkers, hence as one would expect the person’s palate would have adjusted to non alcoholic (read – much sweeter) standard; or online retailed pushing the product. So I had to start exploring what’s out there myself.
And so, explored I did. And very thoroughly. I still mostly stayed away from cheap labels, and was focusing on mid – top end. I was determined to find something that I would not just tolerate but enjoy. I also, thankfully, wasn’t lead by reviews and wanted to make my own decision. Thankfully, because if I was trusting reviews only, I wouldn’t have found some of my now favourites. So after couple months of tasting and many hundreds of dollars spent – here is the fruit of that labour!
In this experiment I have done both retail wines and those only available online (I used Sans Drinks). And disappointingly (but conveniently) my faves were available in retail stores.
So in this post you can expect the opinion of the person who has only very recently made a switch. I have tasted wines from all over the world over the last 20 years and do believe Australia has some of the best wines in the world.
Let’s start with the disclaimer for my reviews: My palate, when it comes to wines, is quite dry. I hate sweetness in my wines. So below is a run down of what I usually love in wines and hence what I am basing my reviews upon. If your tastes for regular wines are quite different you might find these reviews might not be relevant for you. And the main sin of most non alcoholic wines to me – when it tastes like grape juice and is too sweet when is not supposed to be. As simple as that. But – most of them do taste like grape juice and are too sweet. I don’t care what reviews are saying. As unlike alcoholic wine, where if you got not ideal bottle, it might still taste ok after couple glasses – unfortunately it’s not the case when no alcohol is involved.
In white wines I love nice Chardonnays, with good body, nice oak and dry, buttery finish. Victorian Chardonnays are absolutely glorious!! I used to drink Savs in my twenties, but generally have moved away from them. However my best friend is Sav drinker so it’s always in her fridge for good times in her backyard. Pinot Grigios would be my other choice of easy drinking wine in good company on the sunny afternoon. Not a fan obviously of most Rieslings, Moscatos and sweet Rosé etc. Hence in this review journey I didn’t focus much on them as I would not be a good judge of them, but did find few goodies there too.
In red wines my choice would be Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cab Sav. Again in Victoria we have some of the most beautiful and elegant Pinots!! When it comes to Shiraz – Heathcote Shirazes are very hard to beat for me. I love that punch of flavour, earthiness, strong tannins and all the wonderful subtle flavours entwined through it. So I can say I love both light and heavy reds.
Sparkling wines: again – has to be dry. Having said that I generally can’t stomach too much of bubbles, makes me bloated. My choice of sparklings would from Tassie or Prosecco from King Valley.
Rosé wines aren’t generally my choice of wine. I would drink it no other options available. Because quite often I find them too sweet, and as I said few times already I like my wines dry. However I have tried few of them in the non alcoholic range and I should say – was pleasantly surprised!
And finally.. In one of the comments on my video review (not flattering for the wine in question) one person said that she was hoping for more detailed review of what it tastes like “apart from tasting like grape juice”. Well, to me that is number one criteria, and once it does taste like it – I don’t see much point to go much further apart from basic dry/sweet or anything in particular that stands out. If I love it, than obviously I will elaborate on what I love about it.
Once again those are my opinions and I accept that everyone’s tastes are very different. But I hope that this will still help you to navigate this rapidly expanding (thankfully!) new market save some money by getting less disappointments poured down the sink.