Sophia Longhi rounds up her favourite non-alcoholic bubbles – perfect for those of you cutting back on your drinking in 2024, or anyone missing the fizz during Dry January. Have you tried any of these picks?
If I turned up to your house in normaltimes with my arms full of zero-alcohol wines, there’s a good chance I’d be sent packing. But, a lot of you guys seem to be giving Dry (or at least Damp) January a crack this year, so you might be genuinely interested in my full and comprehensive review of a selection of zero-alcohol sparkling wines – for the rest of the month, at least.
In order of personal preference, here’s what I tasted and what I thought.
Sidewood Nearly Naked Sparkling Low Alcohol NV
£14.50, Davy’s Wine Merchants
OK, so this one contains a wisp of alcohol (0.5%), so it’s not completely alcohol-free, but it’s as good as, in my book.
Sidewood smells really good! Very vibrant and fresh, with notes of lemon, blossom and summer meadow. The mousse is not shy. Bubbles dance over the palate, but the bead is small and elegant, continuing to rise in the glass long after it’s been poured. It’s absolutely bone-dry, salty even, has a mouth-coating texture which gives the impression of weight and depth. I’m seriously excited by this!
This sparkling has been made using Sauvignon Blanc (from Sidewood’s award-winning Adelaide Hills vineyards, no less) grapes are crushed and fermented at the winery in Nairne – just like a real wine! The alcohol is then removed using the spinning cone technique.
French Bloom Le Rosé
First off – it’s not cheap.
At £34, it’s a proper treat, but – aside from the fact that it’s got Champagne royalty behind it (the Frerejean-Taittingers) and it’s made from organic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes – it’s really convincing. I like the dryness, the crispness and the taste of fresh red berries and crunchy Pink Lady apples. It has a lively mousse, depth of flavour and a pleasant aftertaste. It’s de-alcoholised, so it’s made as a wine first and then the alcohol is removed.
French Bloom Le Blanc
I expected to prefer this to the rosé version, but the rosé is actually drier, which makes it taste more like the real thing. This is still good, though, and has a complexity of aromas and flavours, including white blossom, peaches, apples, pears, vanilla and brioche. The mousse is fine and vibrant, it has a fair length and the aftertaste is nice and persistent. Very good.
¡H! Barcelona Hola Alcohol Free Sparkling NV
Hola! This smells of Granny Smith apples, limes and a hint of mango. Bustling bubbles fill the mouth and seem to elbow each other for more space. I like the taste of this – it’s fruity without being in-your-face and it has an edge of dryness.
Though it’s still on the sweeter side – kind of like apple pie with salty pastry – it’s refreshing and very drinkable. It’s definitely reminiscent of Cava, which is probably down to the fact that it’s made with Catalunya’s local grapes, Macabeo, Parallado and Xarel-lo. These are fermented, then carbonated.
This is hands down my best value non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
Kylie Minogue Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé
I’ve just seen that this is only £6! This bottle went down very quickly – it’s extremely moreish.
I was expecting Kylie’s Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé to taste more sugary, as it smells quite confected, like strawberry jelly. But, it tastes very pleasant – nostalgic even – of strawberry laces with a tang of fresh raspberries. It’s sweet, but it has dryness and good acidity. The wine provides a nice fizzle on the tongue, with small bubbles.
To go some way to explain the price difference between this and French Bloom (as an example) Kylie Sparkling Rosé is made with grape juice concentrate, green tea and carbonated water, rather than made as a wine first. It hits the spot if you’re in a celebratory mood – and it’s great value.
This is de-alcoholized wine made from Airen grapes, from the oldest Cava producer, Raventós Codorníu.
It smells good: peach; green apple; lactic aromas… and has a peaches and cream kind of flavour. The bubbles are slightly brash, but I don’t mind that too much – it’s the same texture you’d get from a regular Cava at this price point!
Fruit: tick. Acidity: tick. Dryness: tick. But, it lacks depth of flavour and has a slightly metallic aftertaste. Still, it’s mega value at £5 and would do the job for a glass or two.
Codorníu Zero Sparkling Rosé
Familiar and friendly aromas speed up the nostrils – strawberry, apricot and rose. Again, the bubbles are a bit aggressive but the overall taste is dry with fruitiness. Actually, it tastes a bit like (and has the sensation of) pink sherbet.
You know what? This is more like a commercial cider. It’s fizzy, it’s refreshing… but it’s just not Cava. (I know, it doesn’t really claim to be, but it’s certainly branded like a Cava.) It’s not Cava, but it’s OK – and it’s not going to break the bank.
It smells like Freixenet – tick. It’s dry-ish, it’s appley, but I can’t get much of anything else from the flavour wheel. The fizz is there, but disappears quickly in mouth.
Let’s see what this one is, technically-speaking. “Sparkling Drink Based on De-Alcoholised Wine”. Ingredients: Alcohol Free Wine from EU (90%) with Rectified Concentrated Grape Must and Carbon Dioxide.
To be fair, it’s not made a great deal differently from some of the others on this list, but it’s just lacking depth of flavour and texture for me. Although, I’ve probably received worse complimentary glasses of alcoholic fizz at the hairdressers and beach clubs in Malaga.
So, there you have it. This exercise has definitely helped me understand non-alcoholic sparkling wine a bit more, especially since finding out why some are wildly different in price compared to others. Overall, if you’ve got a brand that focuses on quality with their normal wines to begin with, there are higher hopes for their zero-alcohol offerings. I appreciate the effort they go to to make sure the non-imbibers can still take pleasure from a lovely glass of bubbly.
What’s your favourite non-alc fizz? Let us know in the comments.
Imagery provided by Sophia Longhi.