Credit: the content team at Club Soda, UK
"But it doesn't taste like wine."
If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I'd certainly have a pile of pennies. Finding an alcohol-free wine you love can take time and effort.
Alcohol in wine adds body and carries aroma. Many people say they love "dry" wines, not realising that this effect often comes with a hefty dose of alcohol. So, removing alcohol changes the nature of wine. Many supermarket alcohol-free wines are disappointing - over-sweet, unbalanced and thin. However, specialist producers are tackling and overcoming these technical challenges to make satisfying alcohol-free wines.
But the more significant challenge is in us, not the bottle on the shelf. Too often, we compare a new alcohol-free wine with our sense memories of wine drinking, with all its associations of pleasure and comfort. We become hypersensitive to the differences between reality and our inner world. We find ourselves longing for the wine-drinking of the past without reckoning with its negative consequences. Our choice of alcohol-free wine becomes suffused with a heady mix of yearning, regret and aspiration, and hazy memories of flavours, aromas and textures.
In truth, wine is a wildly diverse category. Whenever I hear "But it doesn't taste like wine", I always want to counter, "What does wine taste like?"
So I'd encourage you, when you approach an alcohol-free wine, to be present in the experience. Hold off the comparisons, the expectations, the memories. See if you can appreciate an alcohol-free wine for what it is in its own right. Notice its colour, its aroma, its flavour, and how it lingers in your mouth.
You might discover something you love.