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The Sobering Reality of Non-Alcoholic Wine



I've decided to attempt the impossible and participate in Dry January. And let me tell you, the universe is testing me. Six days into a fresh new year, and there's an attempted coup at the capitol? I can't believe I had to sip on my La Croix and pineapple juice mocktail as I watched all of this unfold. February can't come soon enough.


But all jokes aside, vowing to drink less in the new year is a healthy and smart resolution. And if you're anything like me, 2020 certainly didn't assuage my desire to drink. I still love wine and will definitely drink it for the remaining 11 months of the year. But in the spirit of acting like we have healthy goals for ourselves come the new year, only to abandon them in early February, I figured this would be a fun challenge for me. And if you are also participating in Dry January, the list below could be a helpful guide for satisfying that wine craving.


I ventured out and found a selection of some of the top-rated non-alcoholic wines on the market.


Rondel Zero Non-Alcoholic Cava



Rondel is a Spanish wine substitute that imitates the taste and feel of a traditional cava. This wine was arguably the most delicious among my selections. That said, it smelled a little funky, like overripe apples and citrus. The carbonation gives off the impression of drinking wine, but the overall taste is sweeter than a traditional cava. I was able to drink this whole bottle over the course of a few days, so I would call that a success.


I would rate this wine substitute 7/10. It's a perfect choice for those looking to cut back on alcohol. It would pair nicely with light dishes like tapas or seafood.


Almost Zero Ravishing Rose



I was so nervous to try this wine. And that feeling was validated immediately. As someone who loves a high-acid, light-colored, porch pounding Rose, I was afraid this would be the complete opposite. In the traditional fermentation process, alcohol breaks down the grape sugars. The longer the alcohol interacts with and consumes the sugar, the drier the wine. So with alcohol removed wine, it's tough to create a dry replacement.


My point is that my predictions were correct. This wine was sweet af. Sweet is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just not my particular style. This drink would be perfect for my sweet-wine loving friends. It had notes of strawberry and cherry on the palate and smelled very floral and perfumey. I could hardly drink a single glass, but again, I'm just not much of a sweet wine person. This drink would probably go great as a mixer in a cocktail to cut the sweetness a bit. Or, if you prefer a fruitier, sweeter wine, this can be consumed on its own.

I would recommend pairing this with a spicy Thai dish. I give this wine a 2/10.


Ariel Cabernet



Ariel Cabernet has less than .5% alcohol by volume. According to its label, it is the only non-alcoholic wine to win a Gold Medal award against wines with alcohol.

This wine was very interesting to me. The only way I can describe it is that it had all the sensations of a real wine without actually being a real wine. It was a sweet wine, with notes of blueberry, blackberries, and black cherry, and was even aged in oak. And despite it being sweet, it gave my mouth a drying sensation, not unlike the feeling that tannins give you.

For me, this wine fell somewhere in between the Rose and the Cava. It wasn't terrible, but I also couldn't put away a whole bottle of it. I would rate this one a 6/10. For pairing suggestions, I would try this alongside any barbecue foods. Ribs, smoked chicken wings, or veggie kabobs would taste great against this jammy wine.


Takeaways


Pros: Non-alcoholic wine is lower in calories, a little easier on the wallet, and you can down a whole bottle and still be fit to operate a large vehicle.


Cons: It's not wine.


As much as I would love non-alcoholic wine to replace a well-balanced vino's delicious flavors, it just doesn't. Unfortunately, if you have a craving for wine, grab a bottle of wine. I appreciate the effort that these non-alcoholic wine brands put into their product to make them as "wine-like" as possible. But I've realized that nothing truly substitutes a gratifying glass of wine after a long day.


What's your go-to non-alcoholic drink? Help me create an inventory of options to go to to finish off dry January strong!




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