Alcohol-free sparkling wine has been around for quite a while but until quite recently much of it was pretty disappointing and overly sweet. While beer has led the booze-free march with great success (check out our round up of the best), 0% wine is more tricky to replicate – removing alcohol from a liquid takes away the alcohol-soluble aroma and flavour compounds, as well as the mouth-filling texture of alcohol itself. Wine generally has a higher ABV than beer, resulting in it losing more of its intrinsic character when the alcohol is extracted.
The good news if you’re avoiding booze is that now there’s no need to miss out on the fun. The burgeoning trend for no/lo drinking, along with big improvements in technology, has led wine producers to really up their game and many are now making soft sparklers with real grown-up pizzazz. In addition to wine-based options, ingredients and fermentation techniques from on-trend kombuchas and kefirs are now showing up in alcohol-free alternatives to bubbly. While they’ll never be confused with champagne, these are often intriguingly complex and textured, and well worth splashing out on for a special occasion.
This is as close as you’ll get to a booze-free prosecco, made from the same glera grape and with the same floral fruitiness that makes for easy summer drinking. Knock it back as you would with prosecco, or mix it with Martini’s Vibrante Non-Alcoholic Aperitif (£8, Sainsbury’s) for a close approximation of an Aperol spritz.
Strawberry-scented pink fizz made with the addition of green tea that lends a pleasing tannic crunch. A great substitute for the newly launched pink proseccos that are all the rage this year.
A sparkling riesling from one of Germany’s most respected winemakers. The alcohol is removed using the gentle vacuum distillation process which retains riesling’s characteristic fruitiness and lovely lime juice zest. Very moreish.
Organic, vegan and low in sugar, this sparkling chardonnay has bright bubbles, a green-apple crispness and a clean, dry finish. One of the best alternatives to champagne to be found.
This sparkling white is made from sauvignon blanc grape juice with extracts of elderflower, yuzu and pink grapefruit that all shine through the bubbles. Not too sweet, and they come in handy single-serve 20cl bottles.
Developed by award-winning Danish sommelier, Jacob Kocemba, this is a blend of 13 different teas mixed with organic grape juice. Seriously impressive, fragrant and complex with smoky notes of jasmine and lemon zest, it’s easy to see why this range has been snapped up by many smart restaurants as a food-friendly fizz.
‘Bubbles with benefits’ is the strapline of this brand, referring to the vitamins, minerals and botanicals that are added to its base of sauvignon blanc. Fragrant and refreshing, it also comes in 20cl bottles.
We love the sour tang of kombucha and this is one of our favourites. Made with organic green tea, oolong tea and fresh ginger juice, it has a fiery kick and is really appetising. All four flavours in the range are really good – get a mixed case and try for yourself.
Another new innovation from Denmark, this uses several fermentation techniques on a range of ingredients including white currants, quince, jasmine tea and geranium to create a really beguiling fizz. Savoury and textured, it would appeal to lovers of natural wine with its peachy fruit and gentle funky hit.