Non-alcoholic wine is produced in two ways: grape juice is fermented and matured like wine, then the alcohol is removed (a trace 0.5 per cent usually remains); or grape juice is simply mixed with water and perhaps other ingredients then carbonated. A well-established, refreshing example of the latter is the gingery sparkler made by Victoria’s Robinvale Wines, whose non-alcoholic range also includes Muscat Moscato and Sparkling Passion. Similarly, verjuice gives an acidic zing to celebrity chef Maggie Beer’s alcohol-free sparkling chardonnay and cabernet juice.
Dedicated to non-alcoholic wines, Australian company Edenvale uses both methods to create a generous range including shiraz, sparkling rose and riesling. The Lindeman’s and McGuigan wineries make de-alcoholised sparkling wines, while imports include Spain’s Natureo and Blue Nun from Germany.
Like non-alcoholic wine, beer with zero (or near-zero) per cent alcohol has been on the shelves for years. Made like regular beer, it’s usually heated to remove alcohol, but this tends to adversely affect flavour. More recently, new methods such as vacuum distillation (which enables alcohol to evaporate at a lower temperature) and reverse osmosis have delivered better results.
Major brands including Carlton, Cooper’s, Peroni and Heineken produce beers with little or no alcohol, but Queensland-based Sobah is generating the most excitement. This craft brewery dedicated to booze-free beer is led by Gamilaroi man and psychologist Clinton Schultz, and sells brews spiked with native ingredients such as finger lime, Davidson plum and pepperberry.
More options for less alcohol
Herbaceous Rochester Ginger mixed with soda water has long been a favourite among teetotallers, but more recently tea and kombucha have become go-to base ingredients for non-alcoholic cocktails.
Last year, newcomer Non charged to the front of this alternative pack. Created by a Melbourne chef whose CV includes time at Copenhagen’s acclaimed culinary temple Noma, this five-strong range is made by infusing dried fruits, herbs and spices in hot water. It’s so good it’s turning up on the menus of leading restaurants, including Melbourne’s Supernormal.