The world of non-alcoholic wine has come a long way. It seems like it wasn’t all that long ago when people who don’t drink alcohol but still love wine were stuck sipping sparkling grape juice with their nice steak dinners. That’s not the case anymore. We’re a little spoiled here in Los Angeles, what with our boutique-y non-alcoholic bottle shops, but even chain liquor stores and grocery stores have started to stock decent dealcoholized wines. The best non-alcoholic red wine still might not be as accessible as the regular kind, but progress is definitely being made. For this taste test, we sourced bottles you’re likely to find at your local big-box booze store, as well as some you’ll have to go online to find.
When I sat down at my desk with a bunch of bottles of non-alcoholic red wine, I didn’t really know what to expect. Personally, I find most non-alcoholic beers to be dead ringers for their alcoholic counterparts. But I’ve also sampled plenty of non-alcoholic spirits (like non-alcoholic whiskey), and they definitely tend to lack some bite without those intoxicating fermented sugars. I’d say non-alcoholic red wines land somewhere in the middle: They’re not quite as convincing as N/A beer, but they’re definitely better than N/A liquor. Many manage to be tannic but strike an almost vinegary note. But, if you step into the world of non-alcoholic wines with the right expectations, there are some pretty pleasant-tasting options out there.
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- Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon
The first thing I noticed when I uncorked (or, er, uncapped) this non-alcoholic red was its fascinating aroma. It smells almost like berry candy, but not in a bad way. And the taste? I got tropical fruit and bubble gum, but, again, not in a bad way—trust me. If you like a sweet red, like a Schiava or late-harvest Zinfandel, this might actually be the best non-alcoholic red wine for you. It’s very floral, but still a little oaky, and its intricacies came alive the more I sipped and let it sit on my palate. This would be great for people who were casual wine drinkers before they kicked booze, but maybe not wine aficionados.
Credit: Merc / Total Wine
- Null Solo Garnacha
This is a pricey N/A wine ($34 a bottle), but it’s just so lovely. It’s a bottle of wine that’s a work of art, from the label to what’s inside. It has a very complex nose—dark and almost charcoal-y, tannic and tangy. The taste is very earthy, almost mushroomy, but it’s not heavy at all. In terms of body, it’s light and smooth. Ultimately, this has less flavor than some of the other de-alcoholized wines we tasted—even some of cheaper ones—and it’s also a little bitter. But I still highly recommend seeking this out for romantic evenings in.
Credit: Merc / Studio Null
- Be Well Cabernet Sauvignon
At about 15 bucks a bottle, Be Well Cabernet is affordable, accessible, and it tastes like wine. Not necessarily great wine, but good wine. It has a little bit of wine tang, but also some earthiness I enjoyed. The brand’s website references its notes of black plum and dark cherry, and hints of cocoa powder and black pepper. That all sounds like it would add up to a big, bold flavor, but I think this N/A wine’s greatest strength is how neutral and pleasant it is. It also has a smooth, light mouthfeel (I would have pegged it as a Pinot, myself). As I wrote in my notes, “I’d drink this with steak and be very happy about it.”
Credit: Merc / Total Wine
- Sovi Reserve Red
“That’s the stuff,” is what I wrote in my notes when I tasted Sovi Reserve Red. This de-alcoholized Cabernet Sauvignon-Petite Sirah blend made with grapes grown in California just feels well crafted. It’s tannic and oaky (in fact, it was aged in both French and American oak barrels, so there ya go), but still smooth and light bodied. To me, this has a deep cherry flavor that lingers on the back of your tongue, but the bottle touts notes of plum and boysenberry (it’s stonefruit-forward, so I was on to something). This is an impressive N/A red and at $38 a bottle, it’s one you’ll probably reserve for dinner parties thrown by people you actually care about impressing. Or, what the hell. Just treat yourself.
Credit: Merc / Sovi
Best Accessible (Top Pick)
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Radiant Red Almost Zero Van Loveren Family Vineyards, Fre Merlot, St. Regis Cabernet Sauvignon
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