To meet the demands of an increasingly health conscious world of wine drinkers, more wineries are now making low- or no-alcohol wines. In the past, this was a bleak realm, but today's versions can be surprisingly tasty. While they're unlikely to supplant real wine, they're a welcome addition.
RELATED: Low Alcohol Cocktails For All Day Summer Drinking
Most alcohol-free wines start as regular wine. Then, winemakers use technology to extract the alcohol while, in theory, leaving the flavor behind. Low-alcohol (or low-calorie) wines are either partly de-alcoholized or blends of both regular-strength and de-alcoholized wines. But my absolute favorite of all the nonalc options I tasted, Jukes, isn't technically a wine at all. Its creator, Matthew Jukes, steeps 20 to 25 ingredients (fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, flowers) in organic apple cider vinegar and then pulls off and bottles the results. Jukes mimics yet doesn't mimic wine, and as my sommelier friend Sabra Lewis said, "This is exactly what I'd want if I wanted one more glass of wine at the end of the night but didn't want more alcohol in my system." To that, I say bravo.
RELATED: Wine Is a Language. Do You Lose It When You Stop Drinking?
Jukes Cordialities 6 ($49/nine 1-oz. bottles)
Jukes 6 is the "red wine" offering; there are also white and rosé versions. To drink it, combine the contents of one small bottle with water or sparkling water to your taste. I found it absurdly delicious.
Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Riesling ($6/250 ML)
This canned white from German winemaker Johannes Leitz is dry and minerally, with lemon notes and delicate bubbles. Leitz's alcohol-free Pinot Noir ($18) is equally good
2020 Brancott Estate Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
This low-cal white clocks in at only 9% alcohol. It smells of grapefruit and cut grass, and though it's very light, its tartness keeps the flavors going.
2020 Gisen 0% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
This Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand would be a fine late-summer poolside sipper for those seeking to zero out their alcohol consumption.
2020 Kendall-Jackson Avant Lower Calorie Chardonnay ($17)
This citrusy, low-alcohol Chardonnay is made from a percentage of wine that has been de-alcoholized and wine from grapes harvested at full ripeness. Winemaker Randy Ullom says, "I'd rather do it this way than pick unripe grapes and make a low-cal, low-carb wine that tastes horrible."
Noughty Alcohol-free Sparkling Chardonnay ($20)
A nonalcoholic version of a blanc de blancs made with organic grapes, this has an earthy aroma and hits the palate brisk and zingy.