How is Non-Alcoholic Wine Made?
If you’re as curious as we are then you’ll probably want to know how your favourite alcohol-free wines are made. Only the finest quality wines make it onto Zero.Zilch.Zip., meaning no quality is compromised during the production process.
Here’s how our favourite alcohol-free winemakers create their tasty beverages.
The Production Process
Alcohol-free wine isn’t simply a few fruity ingredients thrown together to make it taste like sour grape juice, the production process is actually rather similar to that of alcoholic wine.
As grape juice and other sparkling fruit juices don’t go through a fermentation process, they never have any alcohol in them at any stage, meaning they get their taste from sugar and other ingredients.
Alcohol-free wine on the other hand does go through a fermentation process, and the alcohol is simply removed at a later time, allowing them to keep the taste you associate with alcoholic wine.
The process is simple then, right? Not quite. Just like alcoholic wines, alcohol-free wine goes through an intricate taste-testing process to ensure that it tastes good and has a likeliness to alcoholic wine, otherwise, it’s not going to be a good wine alternative.
The correct ingredients must be selected and once the alcohol is removed, if it doesn’t taste great, back to the start they go. Not quite as simple as I first thought.
The 3 Methods of Alcohol Removal
To class as alcohol-free, the alcohol by volume (ABV) level must be below 0.05%. 0.5% is classed as de-alcoholised, so still won't have much effect on you (similar to a ripe banana).
A typical alcoholic wine has between 10-15% ABV, meaning a thorough alcohol removal process must be implemented to ensure the non-alcoholic wine meets the requirements of alcohol-free.
Alcohol removal is typically done in one of three ways, all of which start with alcoholic wine and remove the alcohol once produced to keep the taste we love. These are as follows:
1. Reverse Osmosis
Currently the most preferred method of alcohol removal. Reverse osmosis is used in wine created with very ripe grapes, meaning the flavour is more intense but the alcohol level may be higher.
The flavourful wine is passed through a very tight filter, as ethanol and water molecules are the smallest in wine, these pass through easily, and all the other elements that hold the taste do not. The ethanol and water molecules are then separated, at which point the water batch is mixed back in with the flavourful elements previously left on the other side of the filter.
This mixture can then be used to dilute a bigger batch of wine but to keep the ABV levels low it is often bottled straight away keeping a rich flavour and wine-looking colour.
2. Vacuum Distillation
Vacuum distillation is used to separate compounds with the use of heat and pressure. The alcoholic wine is heated up to about 25-30 degrees Celsius, at this point the ethanol in the liquid will evaporate while the rest of the liquid will stay put.
Other ingredients to enhance flavour are then added back in to create the alcohol-free wine. It’s important the heat level doesn’t boil the wine which will evaporate the flavours we want to keep. For this reason, the heat level must be exact and well-controlled to just remove the alcohol.
3. Spinning Cone Technique
Spinning cone columns are stainless steel mechanisms that use low-temperature vacuum steam distillation to remove alcoholic compounds from wine, not too dissimilar to vacuum distillation.
Similar to vacuum distillation, the spinning cone technique allows essential flavours and elements to remain, whilst removing the alcohol to below 0.05%. The technique repeats the process numerous times until the elements are separated, the non-alcoholic elements are then blended back together to complete the process.
The technology involved in these processes, especially vacuum distillation and spinning cone technology, is quite expensive.
This is due to the materials and infrastructure used, meaning reverse osmosis is becoming more popular as this uses more simple pieces of equipment and materials. We’re sure there’ll be more techniques on the way in the near future to further reduce the price of the process and increase the quality of the wine.
Alcohol-free wine, especially most we sell here at Zero.Zilch.Zip., is rather low in calories due to its low sugar content. This means as well as reducing your alcohol content, which is a positive no matter the way you look at it, drinking alcohol-free wine is kinder to your body in other ways too. Non-alcoholic wine is all in all, health conscious.
The ingredients used are typically very similar to that in alcoholic wine, including specific grapes such as shiraz or sauvignon blanc, and once the wine has been ‘de-alcoholised’ a few more ingredients are sometimes added to create unique flavours.
These ingredients can include different fruit juices such as grape juice, other natural flavours and sometimes things called sulphites which help preserve the wine. Just like anything, make sure to check the ingredient list on each wine to ensure you’re safe to drink it.
As we previously said, we only sell the best alcohol-free wine here, all specifically chosen by our Zerologists. Here are our current faves.
Hand on Heart Rosé is a refreshing non-alcoholic wine with a delightful blend of fruity and floral notes. It features flavours of sweet apricot, maraschino cherry, pineapple, and citrus, complemented by the fragrant scent of rose petals and daffodil flowers.
It pairs wonderfully with lean meats, soft cheeses, and light dishes, making it an ideal choice for a meal on the patio during lunch, brunch, or dinner.
From the Miller Family Winery, this Chardonnay offers the classic aromas of a California Chardonnay: buttered popcorn, peach, mango, nectarine, and apricot. A gentle swirl also uncovers hints of toasted almonds and sweet spices.
This alcohol-free Chianti is made from Sangiovese grapes. It has the classic Sangiovese scents of currants and blackberry jam, capturing the essence of Italian red wines.
On the palate, you'll find a perfect blend of tartness and fruity flavours like red plum, rhubarb, and cherry, making it incredibly mouthwatering and juicy. The label reads 'extra dry,' and indeed it is, with 0g of sugar per 100ml. It has a well-balanced acidity and robust tannins, creating a delightful mix of fruity sweetness and a pleasant touch of bitterness on the palate. Plus, it's super low in calories.
POLKA, a South Australian non-alcoholic sparkling cuvée, incorporates wild-harvested native Lilly Pilly. The aim was to craft a non-alcoholic sparkling wine that could rival traditional Australian sparkling wines, not just fizzy grape juice.
After a year of dedicated research and development, they introduced their inaugural vintage. By employing low-temperature distillation and drawing on 40 years of winemaking expertise, POLKA has produced a distinctive alcohol-free sparkling wine.