The Non-Alcoholic Bottle of Bubbly Our Wine Expert Is Drinking This Holiday Season
Being pregnant and working in the wine industry can be challenging — standing for long periods and carrying boxes of wine is a little tougher than it used to be, and I’ve gotten some … interesting comments from customers. But the not-drinking part? It’s honestly no big deal — especially because the category of sophisticated, non-alcoholic beverages has exploded in the last few years. I’ve had a lot of fun over the past few months trying new non-alcoholic wines and other fun beverages.
My favorite find has been the Eins Zwei Zero line from German producer Leitz. I’ve loved the high-quality rieslings from Germany’s Rheingau region for years, so when I started seeing its non-alcoholic wines pop up on my Instagram feed a few years ago, I was intrigued. And let me tell you — these are some of the best non-alcoholic wines I’ve ever tried. The best of the bunch is the sparkling rosé.
I happily drank this pink sparkler before I was pregnant at baby showers or events where I wanted to bring an alcohol-free drink, and I’m loving it even more now.
But first, what is non-alcoholic wine?
True non-alcoholic wine (as opposed to unfermented grape juice or beverages that use that as a base) starts as regular wine.
Then the alcohol is removed, and there are two main processes for doing this. One is vacuum distillation, in which the alcohol, along with other volatile compounds, is removed at around 95°F in a vacuum chamber. The other volatiles (other than alcohol) are the ones responsible for aroma and flavor, and they’re added back in later. This is the method that Leitz uses.
Reverse osmosis uses a sophisticated filter to take out the alcohol based on its molecule size. These methods leave a trace amount (usually less than .5%) of alcohol, so if you don’t feel comfortable with that, non-alcoholic wine might not be for you. In the U.S., anything with less than .5% ABV can be labeled as non-alcoholic; the rules are slightly different in Europe, so if you’re outside the U.S., you may see different terms used.
Alcohol plays a big role in the texture and mouthfeel of wine and other beverages. The higher a wine is in alcohol, the more full and rich it will feel on your palate. Alcohol can also give a slight impression of sweetness, which can help balance bitterness from tannins or higher acidity. So when you remove alcohol from wine, you throw off its balance, and it’s really difficult to get that back. That’s why it’s so difficult to make great non-alcoholic wines, and also why I’m so impressed by this particular bottle.
What’s So Great About Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Rosé?
Many non-alcoholic wines I’ve tried taste kind of sour, thin, or tinny, but Leitz has managed to fill in the gap left by alcohol in an artful way. By using high-quality pinot noir as the base wine for the rosé sparkler, it’s already starting out with a lot of aroma and flavor (pinot noir is an especially aromatic red grape). Wines from this part of the world also tend to have high acidity, which, when balanced with these exotic aromas and flavors, like white peach and Rainier cherries, create a lovely tension and interest.
The texture of the bubbles is also nice and fine, just like you’d expect in a high-quality sparkling wine (as opposed to the larger, nose-stinging bubbles in soda), and that luxurious, foamy texture really helps fill in the gap left by alcohol. I’ve found that in general, sparkling wine and beer’s non-alcoholic counterparts tend to be the most successful because of the textural element added by bubbles, but the Leitz sparklers are in a league of their own.
The other wines in this line are also delicious — vibrant, aromatic, crisp, and refreshing. People always ask me what my favorite wine is, and usually my answer is “anything with bubbles,” so I’m glad I don’t have to give up my beloved bubbles while we’re waiting to meet our new family member.
Buy: Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Rosé, $22 for 750ml at Boisson
Do you have a favorite non-alcoholic wine? Tell us about it in the comments.