Is Alcohol-free Wine Really Alcohol Free? 5 Myths Busted
Alcohol-free wine - a captivating paradox. Wine, the drink favoured by the Gods and kings for centuries, is now made available without the alcoholic content. So, naturally, it begs the question, “Is alcohol-free wine really alcohol free?” Can we continue to enjoy our glasses of reds, whites and Rosés without worrying about a hangover or the terrible impact on our health?
All around the world, people are becoming more conscious of what they consume. Whether it’s veganism or sobriety, mindful living is a popular phenomenon worldwide. So, it is no surprise that de-alcoholised wines are the talk of the town!
Despite the massive popularity, there are still some misconceptions about alcohol-free wines. And this blog will be debunking 5 of the most common myths out there.
What is alcohol-free wine?
Alcohol-free beverages like spirits and aperitifs became popular from the very beginning. Yet de-alcoholised wine took a minute to find its footing. It’s because the de-alcoholised wines lacked the full-bodied experience and the aroma of their boozy counterparts. But the distillation process has evolved and now it is considered one of the most popular alcohol-free beverages around the world.
Words like alcohol-free, de-alcoholised, non-alcoholic and alcohol-removed are often used interchangeably. But you should know that non-alcoholic wine is more of a general term used for wines that don’t use fermented grapes. De-alcoholised, alcohol-free and alcohol-removed are used for wines that go through the alcohol removal or distillation process.
So, you may encounter a lot of dupes in the market. But just like a wine aficionado knows their drinks, you too can identify the right alcohol-free wine from its labels, ingredients and distillation process.
Is alcohol-free wine really alcohol free?
There are a lot of misconceptions about alcohol-free wines, some believe it’s overly sweetened grape juice. But alcohol-free wine actually starts out as regular wine. For example, a winemaker’s grapes are plucked from specific vineyards, transformed into (alcoholic) wine. And then, the wine is de-alcoholised through a gentle distillation process.
Distilleries and producers worldwide use different techniques and technologies to make alcohol-free wines. And some of the most popular techniques include reverse osmosis, the inverted rotating cones method and vacuum distillation.
- Reverse Osmosis - This is a two-stage process - first, the wine is nano-filtered through a membrane that separates the tannins and other desirable components from the water and alcoholic contents. This liquid is then distilled to remove the alcohol. Once the alcohol is removed, it's mixed back in with the tannins, minerals and other contents.
- Vacuum distillation - It is the most common process to remove or lower alcohol contents from wines. To remove alcohol in any method, heat is necessary. But heating the wine can tamper with its taste and aroma. So, in this process, the wine is put into a pressurized chamber and the air pressure is lowered. This results in a decreased boiling temperature to remove the alcohol.
- Inverted Rotating Cones - One of the most complicated methods of alcohol removal. It requires three to four stages of volatile temperatures, adjusting for flavour, ingredients, aroma and mouthfeel. The wine is put in spinning cones that break apart the ingredients and then the alcoholic contents are removed.
Whichever method is chosen to produce the alcohol-free wine, there are trace amounts of alcohol that remain in the final product. So, to answer your question, most alcohol-free or alcohol-removed wine has 0.5% or less ABV in them. Almost the same as kombucha.
So, whether you love a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay if you’re trying to avoid dependency or looking for a healthier alternative, alcohol-free wines are the best bet for you.
5 Alcohol-free wine myths busted
From easy-to-find and accessible non-alcoholic beers to premium-level de-alcoholised wines and prosecco, non-alcoholic beverages are having a moment. And just like with any other new trend, this too is riddled with myths and misconceptions. Here are the five most common myths debunked:
Myth 1: Alcohol-free wine is loaded with sugar
This is the most common myth about alcohol-removed wines, and understandably so. Some of the old alcohol-removed drinks were often high in sugar content. For example, some of the initial versions of alcohol-free wine were only sweetened grape juice.
But now the de-alcoholised wine industry and the distillation process have evolved. In the UK, Thomson & Scott is one of the leading producers of alcohol-removed wines. And its founder, Amanda Thomson, has built her brand on sugar-free, vegan, and halal alcohol-removed sparkling wines and prosecco.
In one of her interviews, Thomson said, “I had a very specific vision. Cutting sugar out of wine and highlighting its health benefits.” The brand came to be because she wanted to change the world and help people become healthy. Having been brought up in a plant-based and sugar-free lifestyle, she wanted a similar alternative for alcohol-removed wines as well.
Her alcohol-free wine brand Noughty has the lowest sugar content among its contemporaries. The non-alcoholic sparkling Chardonnay from Thomson & Scott’s Noughty has only 2.9g/100 ml. In Switzerland, you can get it delivered right to your doorstep and start a monthly subscription package from VE Refinery.
Myth 2: Alcohol-free wines are too expensive
While researching the myths surrounding de-alcoholised drinks, I found that their cost perception is often debated. Many believe that alcohol-removed wines are too expensive, therefore, not as accessible as their boozy counterparts.
Well, there are two reasons behind this misconception. First of all, despite the growing popularity, the perception of alcohol-removed beverages is still somewhat related to soft drinks, sugary sodas and grape juices. And they are quite cheap considering their nutritional contents and the process. So, de-alcoholised wines can seem pricier than usual.
Secondly, the process of making the de-alcoholised wine itself. The producers make alcohol-free wine through a gentle distillation process that separates the alcohol from the wine. It uses all the same ingredients as any other luxury regular wine and that’s the price you pay.
Moreover, I also found it interesting that beverage prices are often dependent on scaling. The more you scale the brand and sell the product, the lesser you charge. This is why often independent breweries charge more for their artisan beers and beverages. So, as the demand for alcohol-removed wines increases, chances are prices will also drop.
Hence, for now, even though the cost may seem exorbitant, consider the value exchange. You’re paying for an experience of the same premium luxury drink without the negative after-effects or side effects.
Now you can order a non-alcoholic Negroni-Sbagliato set from Wilfred’s in Switzerland, from VE Refinery’s exquisite collection of alcohol-free beverages. This kit also includes a bottle of Noughty sparkling Chardonnay.
Myth 3: Alcohol-free wines are only for those who can’t drink alcohol
Wine is great, we all love wine. But we cannot ignore that wine also wreaks havoc on our physical and mental well-being. So, whether you’re looking for a healthy alternative, a halal drink or want to try the latest trend - alcohol-removed wines cater to all. You don’t have to be allergic to alcohol to consume it.
But there are still misconceptions about who can consume alcohol-free wines. Most de-alcoholised wines are made with allergen-free and vegan ingredients. So, if you struggle with alcohol allergy, de-alcoholised beverages are safe for you to consume. Try Feragaia’s alcohol-free spirit from VE Refinery. It’s vegan, sugar-free and allergen-free.
Alcohol-free wines are also safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Shocked? Well, it’s true. Now you don’t have to shy away from any social gatherings with your friends or co-workers. Just swap your drink with a tall glass of Noughty sparkling or still wine. Try the Noughty Dealcoholized Rosé from VE Refinery.
The sober-curious and sober-positive movement is gradually removing the peer pressure associated with drinking. In Switzerland, alcohol is an increasingly unpopular choice in bars and restaurants even with the younger crowd. Trends like ‘Dry January’ make non-alcoholic alternatives even more welcoming at parties, restaurants and even corporate events.
Myth 4: De-alcoholised wines have no health benefits
Contrary to popular belief alcohol-removed wines have several health benefits. The most well-known health benefit of an alcohol-removed wine is the antioxidants. Despite the distillation process, the wine doesn’t lose its antioxidants.
Alcohol disrupts our sleep cycle. Despite boasting the benefits of a nightcap, it tends to reduce our sleep quality and we often wake up with a hangover. So, if you want to continue enjoying your nightcaps, de-alcoholised wine is an excellent replacement. Enjoy your favourite type of Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc and still have a good night’s sleep.
A glass of red is effective for cholesterol control. Similarly, a glass of de-alcoholised red can also have the same effects on your cholesterol levels. But remember moderation is key. You can’t drink bottles of de-alcoholised red wines in the hopes of controlling your cholesterol levels.
Alcohol-removed wines are an excellent choice for diabetics. Regular wines not only have higher sugar content, but the alcoholic component also impacts their insulin secretion. But with de-alcoholised wines, not only is it alcohol-free but also sugar-free. So, it is a perfect drink for anyone with diabetes or at high risk for it.
Lastly, de-alcoholised wines tend to have a lower number of calories and carbs per glass. While a typical glass of wine has almost 130 calories, the Noughty Chardonnay has only 14. Making it the perfect guilt-free drink for all your Sunday brunches and after-work ‘me time’.
Myth 5: Alcohol-free drinks are boring
Alcoholic drinks are anything but boring. Whether it’s a Skinny Margarita, Negroni Sbagliato or simple Gin & Tonic - you can have a non-alcoholic version of them all. That too without compromising the taste and the experience of it.
Use a Pentire Adrift plant-based and alcohol-free drink to replace the Gin in your Gin & Tonic. Or, order the Pentire Margarita pre-mix to make the DIY version of a Skinny Margarita right at home.
Non-alcoholic menu pairings are the latest trend in all fine dining restaurants. Whether it’s your favourite cheese, appetizer, meat or chocolate, wine experts have found the perfect alcoholic-free wine to pair with it.
The growing popularity can also be attributed to the global celebrities promoting their sober and alcohol-free lifestyles; like, Tom Holland and Bella Hadid. The pop singer Katy Perry also launched her own alcohol-free wine brand.
Mindful and conscious living is gradually destigmatizing the individual choice of not drinking alcohol. Rather than creating peer and social pressure to drink alcohol, it’s destigmatizing the social dependency on alcohol. And both younger and older generations are embracing it.
Try VE Refinery for a wide assortment of alcohol-free beverages
The alcohol-free beverages market is positively booming in Switzerland. But the access to luxury and premium alcohol-free wine continues to be limited.
That’s why Victoria Banaszak, the Founder of VE Refinery has partnered with some of the best non-alcoholic beverage producers in the UK. From Thomson & Scott’s wines to Feragia’s non-alcoholic spirits, you can get everything delivered without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops.
From sparkling teas to sparkling wines and Gin alternatives, you’ll find everything at VE Refinery. They’ve now also started to supply to retail stores like Landolt Weine, Food Market Jelmoli, Farmy, Weber Vonesch and Vogelsanger Weine.
So, whether you want to expand your palette or you’ve chosen the sober lifestyle; experiment with the magnificent range of premium alcohol-free drinks. Find what suits you best and you never have to worry about a hangover again.
About the author
Akansha Bagchi, a dynamic digital writer, channels her passion for mental health, mindful living, and innovative culinary experiences into captivating words. With a flair for creativity, she not only crafts engaging content but also excels as a LinkedIn strategist and accomplished ghostwriter. Her words not only inform but also inspire, making her a true maven of versatile and vibrant storytelling.