Drinking less and non-alcoholic options are on the rise, so we’ve delved into the world of booze-free wine to see what’s worth trying. A word of warning: these wines are sweet, much sweeter than conventional wines. A normal off-dry white will have around 4-7 grams of residual sugar per litre, and many of these have the same amount per 100ml – not a great option if you’re trying to lose weight. They’re too sweet to cook with, too. Low or alcohol-free wines are made by creating a normal wine, removing the alcohol by using a spinning cone, and sweetening the resulting liquid with sugar or grape juice to give it some body. Many have a small amount of added flavouring in them, too. This was definitely the least satisfying category. The two that worked best were the prosecco and German riesling, perhaps because both are based on originals that are sweet and low-alcohol. All prices are for 750ml bottles.
All the bottles below have been taste tested by wine writer Henry Jeffreys and food and drinks writer Miriam Nice. Henry is a drinks and wine writer who writes for Master of Malt, and his work has appeared in the The Guardian, The Spectator and The Financial Times. He is the author of Empire of Booze: British History Through the Bottom of a Glass, which won best debut drink book at the Fortnum & Mason 2017 Awards. Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written more than 350 recipes for BBC Good Food and written for Great British Chefs as well as has co-written The Art of Drinking Sober: 50 dry cocktails for all occasions.
Best non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines at a glance
- Best non-alcoholic red wine: Rawson’s Retreat cabernet sauvignon, £5
- Best non-alcoholic German wine: Leitz Eins Zwei Zero riesling, £6.99
- Best for a spritzer: Torres Natureo muscat, £6.30
- Best non-alcoholic rosé wine: Torres Natureo rosé, £5.99
- Best non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc: Eisberg sauvignon blanc, £20
- Best non-alcoholic chardonnay: Ariel chardonnay, £9.99
- Best non-alcoholic sweet wine: De Bortoli The Very Cautious One gewurtz riesling, £6
- Best alcohol-free merlot: Eisberg alcohol-free merlot, £3.25
- Best for making alcohol-free mulled wine: M&S alcohol-free merlot, £4
- Best non-alcoholic vegan red wine: Eisberg cabernet sauvignon, £3.79
- Best full-bodied non-alcoholic red: De Bortoli The Very Cautious One shiraz, £6
- Best non-alcoholic light-bodied red: Ariel cabernet sauvignon, £9.99
How we tested non-alcoholic wine
All wines were stored and served at the temperatures suggested by the producer. Each one was tasted in the same style of glass for the first taste, and then in a wine glass best suited to the grape variety. We were looking for bottles that accurately evoked the characteristics of the wines they were emulating, but more importantly, seeking flavour and complexity that would please both drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
How is non-alcoholic wine made?
Non-alcoholic wine can be made in a few different ways. A common method is vacuum distillation. This lowers air pressure in order to be able to reduce boiling temperature, before wine is boiled. This means alcohol is boiled off the liquid at a much lower temperature, which is far less destructive to the delicate flavours and aromas of the wine.
Other methods of making non-alcoholic wine include using mechanical filtration or a process called a ‘spinning cone’ which separates the wine in order to isolate and remove the alcohol.
Rawson’s Retreat cabernet sauvignon
Best non-alcoholic red wine
This is made by Australian wine giant Penfold’s. It has a dark, spicy nose and on the palate really tastes like wine, there’s some acidity, body and it’s not too sweet. Fades very fast though and then, poof, it’s gone. Less than 0.5% alcohol.
Leitz Eins Zwei Zero riesling
Best non-alcoholic German wine
Smells a bit funny initially with some earthy notes on the nose, but on the palate it really tastes like a German riesling with peachy fruit and that characteristic blend of sweetness and acidity. This actually made me want another glass.
Waitrose Cellar (£6.99)
Torres Natureo muscat
Best for a spritzer
Along with Rawson’s, the Natureo range from Torres, one of Spain’s biggest producers, are probably the best widely available low-alcohol wines. This muscat is unashamedly sweet with notes of honey and flowers. It tasted best in a spritzer with ice and sparkling water.
Waitrose Cellar (£6.30)
Torres Natureo rosé
Best non-alcohol rosé wine
This rosé from Torres is also pretty good. Again, there’s no doubt that it’s sweet (2.6g sugar per 100ml) but the sweetness suits it and the finish isn’t at all cloying. If you like Mateus rosé (for those under 40, ask your parents), you’ll enjoy this.
Dry Drinker (£8.99)
Eisberg sauvignon blanc
Best non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc
This has delightfully tempting fresh floral aromas of elderflower with hints of green apple. The flavour is supported by lots of juicy ripe pear, peach and more elderflower with a touch of melon. We suggest serving this very well chilled or in a spritz to keep the sweetness in balance – as a helpful reminder to serve this cool, ‘eisberg’ is the German word for iceberg.
Best non-alcoholic chardonnay
California-based Ariel have a big, buttery chardonnay for you here. If that’s how you like your chardonnay then you won’t be disappointed. It’s intensely buttery, with a savoury note – think artichokes or samphire drenched in melted butter. It is extremely smooth with a touch of baked apple and coconut on the palate. This has surprising complexity and a clean, dry, chalky finish.
De Bortoli The Very Cautious One gewurtz riesling
Best non-alcoholic sweet wine
Part of the De Bortoli Wines portfolio based in Australia, this wine has heady aromas of lychee and beeswax. It is unsurprisingly sweet with lots of rose petals, peaches and overripe nectarines on the palate. You might detect a touch of minerality at the end which adds interest and stops it tasting too sickly and soapy. Serve very well chilled.
Eisberg alcohol-free merlot
Best alcohol-free merlot
Raspberries, blackberries and a hint of a woody aroma appear here along with a dash of clove and vanilla. On tasting you’ll find rich, juicy black cherry skins and soft blackberries. As the flavour develops on your palate, the dry and tannic qualities appear before leaving you with a lingering gentle return of cloves and a touch of cocoa.
M&S alcohol-free merlot
Best for making alcohol free mulled wine
On the nose you’ll find black cherries and stewed plums. The tastes evokes a light mulled wine there’s a lot of warming festive spices, baked orange and more slow cooked stone fruits. The tannins and the dry finish keeps the sweetness in check for what is an accessible and easy drinking merlot.
Available from Ocado (£4)
Eisberg cabernet sauvignon
Best non-alcoholic vegan red wine
Aromas of cooked cherries and jammy strawberries appear along with a touch of green peppers, juicy blackcurrants and blackberry. There is a touch of acidity on the palate but this gives way to a smooth, rounded mouthfeel, lots more fresh cherry flavour and a touch of tannic astringency providing a moreish finish. Serve at room temperature, but, as with all these wines, keep chilled the rest of the time once opened. They don’t keep more than a day or two without the preservative qualities of alcohol.
De Bortoli The Very Cautious One shiraz
Best full-bodied non-alcoholic red
This pours as a dark ruby red. It is nuanced and complex with floral notes of rose, honeysuckle and sweet pea blooms on the nose, which then move into dark fruits, raspberries and blueberries on the palate, leaving you with red apple skin tannins and tobacco. Another great Australian entry to the list.
Ariel cabernet sauvignon
Best non-alcoholic light-bodied red
Another example from California, evoking the big jammy flavours associated with cabernet sauvignon of the region. If your preference is for something sweeter with more ripe berry fruits then you can’t go wrong with this one. With a swirl of the glass you’ll be greeted with ripe strawberries and baked blueberry aromas. Delicate and sweet, you’ll discover lots of strawberries and cream flavours at first taste, with vanilla, melted butter and blueberries in abundance as a deeper secondary taste.
Dry Drinker (£9.99)
Non-alcoholic drinks inspiration
This review was last updated in August 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
We’d love to hear about your favourite non-alcoholic wine. Share your suggestions in the comments below.