Look, I confess to bemoaning the rise and rise of alcohol free beer, wine and spirits. I've always seen the need for low alcohol products for those who are limited by having to drive, or don't wish to drink a lot. But I have perhaps been unsympathetic to those allergic to alcohol or for faith, cultural and other reasons, simply choose not to have alcohol. I have come around to this idea and perhaps need to explore more.
Irene Falcone is the founder of Nourished Life and Sans Drinks and answered some very simple myths about alcohol free wine and other beverages. While sales are skyrocketing, there are still some ideas to be dispelled.
Aren't alcohol free drinks just sugar and water?
This is a really common misconception and dates back to times when alcohol free wine was essentially grape juice in a nice bottle. The irony is that alc-free wine tends to have less sugar and fewer calories than the wine drink. For example, Giesen a well known 0% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is only 2.9g of sugar per 100ml and has 80% fewer calories than a standard alcoholic Sauv Blanc. Thomson & Scott Noughty is only 2.9g of sugar and 14 calories per 100ml, and Newblood Chardonnay is only 1.8g of sugar and 14 calories per 100ml. So its much better for you than drinking soft drink or juice.
Is Alc-free wine full of empty calories?
Alcoholic drinks contain little nutritional value which makes them an excellent example of empty calories. On top of this, if you are having a glass of wine with food, it’s important to know that the alcohol can slow down your metabolism. One US study showed that consuming just 24 grams of alcohol—the equivalent of two standard drinks—slowed fat metabolism by 73 per cent. Alcohol free wine does not have the same effect, while many alc-free wines have potential health benefits such as extra antioxidants.
Does it taste like the real thing?
Another hangover from the grape juice days. Things have really moved on and most alc-free wines are de-alcoholised, meaning they've been made in exactly the same way as traditional wine and then had the alcohol removed, to smells and tastes like the real thing. The fact that the alc-free wine market is exploding speaks to the popularity of the trend and global sales wouldn’t be booming if the product was not up to scratch.
What is the difference between alcohol free wine in the supermarket and others in the market?
Ok so you can buy alc-free wine in the supermarket – it’s right there next to the cordial and mixers. But while you can stick a bottle in your trolly when you do your weekly shop, you won’t be experiencing the best tasting wine available. On top of this, supermarket staff will not be able to give you tailored advice about what to try.
Is it only teetotallers who drink alcohol free wine?
It’s seems there has never been a better time to be a non-drinker. The majority of sans drinks customers are actually people who just want to cut back on booze and drink more mindfully. Alc-free drinks can play a bit part in creating a healthier relationship with alcohol because they are an easy swap. Having said that, I know lots of women who have been converted. When it tastes the same, it just makes sense to choose the healthy option.
Over to you folks. This wine scoffer has picked up a number of Alc Free wines - there are at many options in the market we looked at, but they are not my bag. As someone who loves the nuance of wine, I found them overtly focused on a specific flavour profile like oak or the tropical notes of sauv blanc and not to my own liking, but don't let that prevent you from giving them a go. As they say in the classics, to each his own.
Sans Drinks is a dedicated online alcohol free bottle retailer. Have a look and see what you find to your taste.