It’s taken more than a decade for non-alcoholic wine to gain traction, but it’s now reportedly Australia’s fastest growing drink category. But what’s the difference between grape juice and non-alcoholic wine?
RACV Club Sommelier Christian Maier says low or alcohol-free wines are made by creating a normal wine, then removing the alcohol with a spinning cone, and sweetening the resulting liquid with sugar or grape juice to give it body.
“Non-alcoholic wine is the most difficult category to appropriate the original alcoholic product,” he says. “The trick is to make it taste like wine and not fruit juice.”
He says non-alcoholic wines are often sweeter than conventional wines.
“A normal dry white will have up to 4g per litre of residual sugar, whereas non-alcohol wines have up to 7g per litre. That’s not so good if you’re trying to lose weight. They're also too sweet to cook with, and many have flavouring added as well.”
In response to increasing consumer demand, Maier has chosen two non-alcoholic wines to serve in the Members Dining Room at RACV Club. “In my book, the best ones that provide a great tasting experience are the Giesen Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Marlborough in New Zealand," he says.
A mocktail with mojo
If you need to celebrate sans alcohol, then a mocktail is the perfect solution. You can enhance the flavour and fizz with seasonal fruit and add garnishes to make it look extra special. For his Summer Mocktail below, Rob Pierce has made a sugar syrup with pomegranate and nectarine.
“It’s easy to make this sugar syrup,” he says. “It’s one part sugar, one part water, and then you add the destoned nectarine and pomegranate seeds. Bring to the simmer and keep stirring until it’s completely broken down. Then strain and cool.”
The other ingredients are pineapple juice, lemon juice, tinned passionfruit and soda water. “The reason we use pineapple juice is it replaces our egg white and creates a lovely foam, and the soda water gives it that fizz element,” Pierce says.
If you’re keen to make your own dehydrated lemon and lime for the garnish, thinly slice the citrus fruit and cook slowly in a 75°C oven for four to five hours.