8 best non alcoholic wines for Sober October (and beyond)

We noted the appearance, aroma and palate to help us rate our selection (The Independent)
We noted the appearance, aroma and palate to help us rate our selection (The Independent)

If anything was going to affect the way Briton’s drank alcohol, it was going to be a pandemic. But the picture didn’t exactly look how most would have expected. While more than a quarter of people drank more during the lockdowns, more than one in three took active steps to manage their drinking. Some seven per cent stopped drinking entirely, according to Alcohol Change UK.

Tom Ward, founder of the online alcohol-free drinks shop Wise Bartender, saw his business grow 500 per cent “almost overnight” as people took a more flexible approach to drinking in the same way as some do to eating meat and veganism.

“There are so many benefits to reducing drinking or stopping altogether for a period of time,” Ward says. “Straight away people often sleep better, and they might notice improvements in their skin and hair and reductions in anxiety.”

While sodas and other soft drinks are fine, you may also want to try alcohol-free alternatives to your favourite tipple. Alcohol-free wine has historically been a challenge for producers who have been attempting to match the flavour of its boozy counterpart, says Ward.

However, wineries and producers have diversified and there have been some exceptional bottles coming onto the market. And we’ve found them for this round-up. Cheers to a fantastic Sober September and beyond.

How we tested

We gathered a range of alcohol-free (containing no more than 0.05% alcohol by volume, or ABV) and dealcoholised (with no more than 0.5% ABV) red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from around the world. There was plenty of swirling, sniffing and sipping as we tried each, noting the appearance, aroma and palate to help us rate our selection.

The best alcohol-free wines for 2022 are:

Belle & Co alcohol free sparkling rosé

A lively fizz, just the right amount of acidity and notes of zingy apple make this a delightfully fresh pale salmon rosé that casts our minds back to summer evening soirées. It’s a vibrant blend of premium green tea and non-alcoholic fermented grape juice, which results in a perfectly balanced palate. One of our testers is usually a boozy bubbly devotee but said she’d happily switch out her regular tipple for a glass of this rosé fizz for an evening of mindful drinking. This wine is also gluten-free, suitable for vegans and contains about a third of the calories of a typical sparkling wine at 28 calories per 125ml.

Buy now £3.79, Amazon.co.uk

La Gioiosa alcohol-free sparkling

Coming from the northeastern Italian region of Veneto – home to the country’s famous fizz, prosecco – we had lofty expectations for this alcohol-free alternative. Appearances would tell you that it could do with a few more bubbles, but a sip defies that assumption as the fizz dances on the tongue for a surprisingly lively finish. We found it was more like an asti than a prosecco, not a bad thing at all. It hops between the boundaries of sweetness and acidity owing to its fruity palate, and we detected a slight hint of musk, making it a marvellous aperitif.

Buy now £4.99, Morrisons.com

Walt riesling lø

Made using the white grape from the Rhine region, this pale straw number is an easy-drinking wine that has been dealcoholised – ideal for those taking part in Sober September. It has a potent aroma and is one of the sweetest we tasted in our round-up but still feels crisp and fresh, with notes of ripe pear.

Buy now £8.80, Hometipple.com

Sinzero 2018 cabernet sauvignon

This Chilean wine from Santiago is so deeply plum in colour it’s almost purple. Its intriguing aroma is earthy and heavy with dark fruits but almost without any suggestion of sweetness. The dryness is confirmed with a sip that uncovers a medium-bodied mouthfeel and more of those dark fruit flavours for an exceptional finish that is hard to come by in the alcohol-free wine world. This wine, which is aged for four months in French oak barrels, was brilliantly suited to our tester’s palate and is the most authentic alcohol-free red wine we have tasted.

While it is currently out of stock, the retailer says it’ll be back soon.

Buy now £10.99, Drydrinker.com

Oddbird blanc de blanc

This is the second Languedoc wine in our round-up, and it is equally elegant as the merlot shiraz we selected. Made from chardonnay grapes, it is almost as vibrant and delectable as a real deal French bubbly. But it is the 12 months of ageing in oak barrels that caught our attention because it leads to an extraordinarily well-rounded wine, lush with the flavours and aromas of fresh fruits and citrus, and just enough honey sweetness.

Buy now £12.00, Harveynichols.com

Carl Jung merlot red wine

We were surprised that the blackberry and black cherry palate of this wine did not equal saccharin sweetness. This medium-bodied ruby merlot, made with grapes from La Mancha in Spain, is the product of a century-old process for creating alcohol-free wine. Carl Jung Jnr came up with the idea of gently extracting the alcohol at room temperature using a vacuum technique, which was patented in 1907. The aromas are collected separately and reintroduced for a stunning bouquet that belies the alcohol content. This wine is tremendous when paired with a mushroom dish or a roast.

Buy now £7.99, Alcoholfree.co.uk

Vallformosa alcohol free cava

If Spanish fizz is your thing, this alcohol-free bottle will be right up your street. Pale straw in colour and suitably effervescent, it’s delicate, fresh and crisp with an excellent balance of sweetness from tropical fruit flavours such as mango. Be sure to stock up before your next fiesta and pair with tapas for pure Catalan vibes. Vallformosa’s cava is sunshine in a bottle.

Buy now £7.25, Thealcoholfreeco.co.uk

Oddbird merlot shiraz

France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region is known for producing some of the best wines in the world, and this alcohol-free organic bottle is no different. Its vivid ruby hue promises – and delivers – dark berry, cherry and plum flavours that linger without too much sweetness. Ageing for 12 months gives a superb depth and a full-bodied mouthfeel. This wine is an outstanding must for long evenings with good company and an excellent cheeseboard.

Buy now £8.54, Amazon.co.uk

The verdict: Alcohol-free wines

Those looking for a booze-free alternative to red wines could do no better than with the deeply fruited and oaky Sinzero 2018 cabernet sauvignon. And we loved Belle & Co’s alcohol-free sparkling rosé for its refreshing crispness.

Looking for a sweet way to count down to Christmas? Read our Cadbury’s advent calendar round-up