NEW WINE – NO ALCOHOL
Mairead Robinson tries out some alcohol-free wine
Some wine lovers think ‘why would you bother?’ while others welcome the arrival of alcohol removed wines as a great addition to their healthy living style. But the reality is that quality wines, without the alcohol, are here to stay and the debate appears to be pointing to increased popularity. While Dublin has seen the opening of its first alcohol free bar, there is no doubt that in the words of the great bard “the times they are a-changing”.
While I have tasted some alcohol-free wines over the past few years, I must admit that I found them largely unimpressive, and I would have preferred a plain glass of fruit juice instead! However, some new additions to the market have changed all that. Interestingly Australia appear to be leading the charge in this area, with popular brand McGuigan producing a fragrant and refreshing Rose and a floral and finely balanced Moscato which are both alcohol free and part of their new Delight range. While the Moscato is sweet and the Rose is fruity and aromatic, both wines would pair well with Asian food and make a light refreshing lunch-time wine that has all the taste and none of the alcohol. Another range called Eden Vale from Australia have produced a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Rose, all with the alcohol removed yet still maintaining the flavours and body of their varietals. So if you want a glass or two of wine with your meal, are driving, pregnant or on medication, this is the perfect answer.
The average finished alcohol level of the Edenvale range is approximately 0.2 – 0.3% Alcohol/Volume, a level similar to that found in natural fruit juices. The Delight wines are 0.4% and 0.5%. Both keep the taste and full complexity of regular alcoholic wine, without the alcohol. Delicate alcohol extraction technology is used to ensure varietal definition and flavours are retained in the finished product so consumers can still enjoy a wine experience without the effect of alcohol. The Delight Rosé is “lightly spritzed” with flavours of “forest fruits, rose petals and a lingering ripe red cherry finish”.
“At McGuigan we are committed to producing high quality wines for all consumers, and that extends to those with an appetite for low-alcohol varieties,” said chief winemaker, Neil McGuigan. “We’re delighted to be introducing our first low-alcohol range into Ireland and believe that the Delight wines will fill a gap in the Irish market for those consumers seeking premium versions of this increasingly popular style of wine.”
The Delight Rosé wine has an abv of 0.4%, having been de-alcoholised at the producer’s winery in Australia, with alcohol removed after a wine has been fermented and matured.
For those of us who are keeping an eye on the waistline, it is great to know that these wines have nearly half the calories of normal wine as when alcohol is removed from wine, so too are large quantities of calories. Alcohol is created from the fermentation of natural sugars found in the grape, hence, the strong relationship between alcohol, sugar and calories. The removal of 13% alcohol by volume translates to over 60% calorie reduction. The Delight wines are available in Supervalu and cost just €6 Edenvale is an on trade wine and can be found in Barry’s of Douglas, Cork. The Morrison Hotel, Dublin, Voici Creperie and Wine Bar, Dublin.
Now normally at this time of year, I turn my attention to warmer, heavier, red wines to enjoy around the fireside as the evenings are drawing in. However this time I have changed around to look at not only alcohol free wines, but also lighter fresher wines more usually associated with summer time. First up is Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria in New Zealand – after all, it is summer over there! But I am choosing this wine not just for its crisp fruit flavours and friendly partnering with seafood which I love, but also for its commitment to sustainability – a topic very much in the news these days. Founder and Owner of Villa Maria, Sir George Fistonich explains:- reducing carbon emissions for over ten years, including using rail-freight “Sustainability is a journey and we are continuously seeking to improve to ensure we leave something for future generations. We are proud to be a founding member of Sustainability Winegrowing NZ. We have been measuring and reducing carbon emissions for over ten years, including using rail-freight for domestic wine shipments, new refrigeration technologies and off-set flight emissions through Air NZ Fly Neutral programme. Over 30% of our vineyards are organically managed for over twenty years.”
And if that does not leave you with a feel-good sensation when enjoying their wines, how about the latest tipple to arrive in Ireland from Graham Norton? Pink by Design, is Graham’s gorgeous Rose, also from New Zealand and a real taste of summer in a bottle. Or as the man himself would say, while it is the perfect wine for a summer’s day, it is also the one to put the summer into any day! Over the past few years, his grape blending expertise has impressed winemakers everywhere and indeed Graham weaves his magic again, blending the different personalities in wine just like he does with actors, comedians and artists to create a great show – loads of fun and a fantastic experience. Both wines are widely available in SuperValue, Dunnes, Tesco and CarryOut, and both are priced at €12
Enjoy your wines as the seasons change, and put some sunshine into every glass!