Guide to Organic Alcohol Free Wine

Vintage Roots
Low alcohol and alcohol free wines

What is organic alcohol free wine?

Organic alcohol free wine is an unfermented drink made using organic grapes, with no alcohol content. Legally, wine needs to have a minimum alcohol content of 1.2% ABV or less, or to be classed as alcohol free, will have 0.05% ABV or less. Also known as de-alcoholised, organic alcohol free wine is an organically made drink that means there is little to no alcohol content in the entire drink.

People may choose to go alcohol free for many reasons. Producers have responded and there is a steadily rising number of quality low and free-of-alcohol wines in the UK. Alcohol free wines have been slower to make their mark on UK drinkers than alcohol free beers. This, in a nutshell, is because until now the brewers have been ahead in terms of innovation. Happily, our grape growing friends are catching up. Fast.

In 2018, 29% of people aged between 16 and 24 described themselves as being teetotal. At the same time, so-called “lifetime abstainers” has risen to 17%. A report by Wine Intelligence found that an increased focus on wellness and working to sustain a healthier lifestyle in recent times has led to at least one-third of wine drinkers moderating their consumption.

Organic wine in vats

How is organic alcohol free wine made?

Alcohol free is surprisingly costly. A producer may decide the answer lies in intensive canopy management in the vineyard to keep sugar levels in the grapes very low.

If that’s not an option, then it’s chemistry time! Take your pick from reverse osmosis, evaporative perstraction, humidification, vacuum evaporation … and – arguably the slickest of all – the spinning cone column.

Purists baulk at many of these techniques because they tend to take out not just alcohol but flavour components too. Humidification is the odd one out, given that it’s just a posh way of saying ‘added water’ (ahem!) …

The one system that claims not to negatively impact flavour is the spinning cone. A quick Google search will deliver you videos and in-depth explanations but in brief; for every 1% reduction in alcohol, you’re after, you put 10% of the total batch through the cone. Thin-film vacuum technology removes the volatiles with aromas that are removed in the first pass, stored separately, and added back at the end. Alcohol is removed on the second pass from the aroma-free wine.

It is impressive – very techy and pricey too. Frankly, this is a solution for wineries with deep pockets and (most likely) substantial volumes.

Sun shining through glass of wine

The climate and its role in alcohol in wine

It’s barely possible to go to a wine masterclass these days in which the impact of climate change is not discussed. Increased temperatures have had a direct impact on alcohol levels and just as many wine drinkers have found this difficult, so too have the winemakers.

Wine promotional material so often talks about long-ripening that allows grapes to reach optimal ripeness. What this means is good phenolic ripeness and not just a grape that’s laden with sugar. Phenols are the compounds responsible for colour, tannin, and flavour; all the things that make wine interesting and complex. When it is excessively hot, grapes can reach sugar ripeness at the expense of phenolic maturity and the wine’s balance is lost.

Climate alone isn’t responsible for high sugar levels – grapes play their part too. Syrah (Shiraz) and Primitivo naturally produce more sugar than Pinot Noir, for example. As a rule of thumb, white grapes have less sugar and in turn, less alcohol.

In vintage wines where temperatures have fallen short of the expected average, sugar levels can be troublingly low. This can lead to a loss of weight and structure in the wine which can have a negative impact on how the wine’s tannins and acidity are perceived. That’s not a desirable outcome for any wine enthusiast and that is when alcohol is definitely good!

Our favourite organic alcohol free wines

Opia is the first organic alcohol free wine range, made by Pierre Chavin. The company has worked hard to optimise the wines’ flavours, ageing taking place in French oak. French-made, this fruity, organic, alcohol free Chardonnay is vegan friendly and boasts no more than 70 Kcal per 100ml glass. Healthy and delicious.

Best organic alcohol free sparkling wines

Opia Alcohol Free Sparkling Chardonnay has delicate bubbles and aromas of white flowers, granny smith apples and orchard fruits too. Creamy and citrus on the palate, it’s a treat of a sparkling drink.

Pri Secco Organic Cuvée Nr 25 is a red organic alcohol free sparkler made from … wait for it … apples, pears, hawthorn, blackcurrants and Douglas Fir tips, sloes and spices. Now that’s breadth and complexity for you! Well crafted, this is as unique as it is wonderful.

Best organic alcohol free red wines

Opia Alcohol Free Cabernet Sauvignon is French-made and shows wonderful purity of Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with blackcurrant and cherry fruits accompanied by light spice and vanilla.

At Vintage Roots,  we are mindful that there are plenty of wine drinkers who enjoy the alcoholic kick of the wine experience but do like their wines to be 12.5% ABV or less. Historic suggestions that a wine’s quality was related to its ABV is plain wrong. There are all sorts of reasons a wine has naturally lower alcohol levels: a grape varieties naturally low sugar levels, the vineyard management and the choices made in the winery all play a part.

Here is a pick of just a handful of maximum flavour, modest/lower alcohol organic wines! NOTE: alcohol volume/ABV can vary from vintage to vintage, so what’s written here may not be 100% accurate.

A wonderful duo of organic lower-alcohol white wines

If you’re looking for lower alcohol white wines, try the popular Domaine de Pajot Les Quatre Cepages made from a blend of four grapes in Bergerac, France.

For another popular low alcohol white, try Giol’s Perla Frizzante, a great all-around lightly sparkling Italian white with 11% ABV.

Two of the best organic lower-alcohol red wines

Meinklang Roter Mulatschak is a delicious Austrian blend of biodynamic Saint Laurent and Zweigelt grapes. We love the food-friendly nature of this earthy, flavoursome red that strikes an impressive balance between freshness and ripe red fruits.

Les Quarterons St Nicolas de Bourgueil is a charmer of a red wine. From the Loire valley, it is dominantly Cabernet Franc here and the light red cherry and plum fruits have the grape’s charcoal-note, calling card. Sprightly and engaging, this is a very fine, aromatic red.

Original price was: £18.95.Current price is: £17.99.

Alcohol Free Beers

Vintage Roots are proud of our very tasty trio of alcohol free beers. One from England and two from Germany, each has proven very popular. Shop our organic alcohol free beers here.

Shop alcohol free organic wine and lower alcohol organic wine with us today and find the perfect match for you.

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