I tasted tasted 6 nonalcoholic wines, and while the whites and reds weren’t close to the real thing, the sparkling wine was surprisingly good

I tried a white, rose, red, a wine alternative, sparkling wine, and sparkling mead.

caption
I tried a white, rose, red, a wine alternative, sparkling wine, and sparkling mead.
source
Emma Taylor/Insider

After taste-testing a bunch of alcohol-free and non-alcoholic beers in honor of Dry January, it was only fair to give wines a go. I am a big wine drinker, and would have a couple of glasses each week to relax with or catch up with friends over. My usual order is something dry, light, and if I am driving afterward, topped up with soda water.

I know that if I was to give up alcohol for whatever reason, I’d miss wine the most – I’ve come to now realize wine is a large part of my social rituals.

I tested out an assortment of six non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines, and wine alternatives. I’ve been told that nonalcoholic wines, for the most part, are unpalatable, which is why I threw in a couple of replacement options that could hit the spot that drinking wine occupies. Dry January is a long and arduous month for some, so it’s good to have choice.

With the help of my editor taking pictures and setting up the blind tasting, we followed the same analytical process as was used when taste-testing non-alcoholic beers.

I also refrigerated the drinks this time.


I went in with six options to try if you’re a wine-lover and are curious about the non-alcoholic options.

caption
The six choices lined up.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Obviously it was going to be a little easier to identify which one was which in this highly scientific experiment as the colors were all so different.

caption
A rainbow of non-alcoholic drinks which sort of give the game away.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

However, I didn’t see my editor pour out each drink, so there was a chance at this point that the mead could have been a reddish color and I’d have been none the wiser. Having refrigerated all but one of drinks, the temperature also gave a little hint as to what it was.


Contestant number one.

caption
First up to bat.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

On sight, it looked like a British soft drink called Ribena (a flavored cordial mixed with water).

caption
Looks like Ribena in the glass.
source
Kiara Keane

The color was standard red wine (ish) and didn’t have a thin, watery consistency which is quite a positive if you’re a sophisticated adult in a serious setting who doesn’t want to look like they’re drinking a kid’s drink.


This glass was cold, so I knew immediately it wasn’t the alcohol-free red wine (which I did not chill). It had a really strong oaky smell.

caption
The smell is smokey.
source
Kiara Keane

The smell translated into the taste of the drink. It was quite a grown-up taste with the strong smoky taste and notes of berry fruits.

caption
Berry notes mixed in with the smokey taste.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

My first thought was that it tasted like the inside of what a Catholic church smells like – mainly incense. The woody, smoky flavor was the dominant tone of this drink, but was not unpleasant.

It felt as though this beverage had been designed to be sipped slowly at a stand-up drinks party while nibbling on delicate canapés. This is not a drink you want to swig back in a couple of glugs.


It was actually a non-alcoholic aperitif from Aecorn, the “Aromatic” flavor. Even the bottle felt like a proper grown-up one, with metallic gold accents and a stylish acorn leaf design.

caption
Although I liked it, this drink was too adult-tasting for me to return to. I can imagine some people out there would relish the flavor, though.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Although not marketed as anything close to a wine, this drink could be a great alternative if you’re after an alcohol-free beverage that carries some complexity that a normal red wine can give.

I looked closer at the serving suggestion on the bottle and it recommends enjoying this drink over ice with a splash of tonic or sparkling water. I put it in the fridge but did not follow the rest of the instructions, which would have probably bumped the score up. However, this drink did feel a bit too mature for my tastes for me to happily go back to.

Score: 3/5


Me and you, number two.

caption
My second drink.
source
Kiara Keane

I was 98% sure this was the rosé. It was cold, and it looked like the cheap kind of rosé you’d knock back in the park on a summer’s day.

caption
Very certain number two was the rosé.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Number two also smelled like cheap rosé and brought back some hazy sun-soaked memories.

caption
I share my thoughts about the cheap rosé smell with my editor.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Not surprisingly, it tasted like bargain rosé too.

caption
The taste is exactly what you would expect budget rosé to taste like.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Even though this wine had zero alcohol in it, the flavors were really stirring up a reaction in my brain. Almost like it was presenting a ‘look what happened last time you drank rosé that tasted like this’ and preparing itself for a chronic headache in a few hours.


Torres Natureo De-Alcoholised Spanish rosé wine was number three.

caption
At a quick glance I don’t think anyone would realise this rosé is non-alcoholic.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

The bottle and label of this drink looked great actually, and at a glance, I don’t think anyone would realize it was non-alcoholic. I didn’t find it to be an enjoyable drink, but it definitely had that genuine cheap rosé wine flavor.

When drinking it, my body was almost anticipating the wince from the alcohol, but it never came as it was booze-less. Maybe if you jazzed it up with ice cubes and some frozen berries, this could be better.

Score: 3/5


Hello, number three. Please be delicious.

caption
Option three.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

It looked like a white wine and had a nice color.

caption
Number three could be all white.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Again, the smell was evoking low-price wine vibes. Quite vinegary and tart.

caption
It looked like a white wine, but did it taste like a white wine?
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

The look of the liquid in the glass said “white wine,” and it even had teeny tiny collections of bubbles around the edge of the liquid.


You can tell by my face here that this was not a pleasurable sip.

caption
Struggling to get over the juice feel of this.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Unlike the rosé tasting like it smelled, this had zero wine taste on the first go, and was more like a tangy juice. My second mouthful nudged more towards “wine” territory. It had quite a heavy taste and has a strong perfume over the tang.


Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Alcohol-Free Riesling was behind door number three.

caption
The heavy and tangy taste was not for me.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

The name “Eins Zwei Zero” made me chuckle when I twigged it was a play on “eins, zwei, drei” so I liked it before trying it based on that alone. Nevertheless, the tangy taste was not for me. I suspect if it was topped up with soda water this could be a totally different experience, but I am more partial to dry and lighter tasting white wines on the whole.

Score: 3/5


Knock at the door, number four.

caption
Wine number four.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

I knew for a fact this was the non-alcoholic red wine as it was room temperature (the only one of the six options that was) and had a decent red wine color.

caption
Red, red wine don’t go to my head…
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Big points for looking like a good red wine. I measure red wine color (again I am not a qualified sommelier or even know that much about wines, I simply like it) as being decent if there’s a depth to the hue, but not so deep that you can’t see through it.

caption
Tick for the red wine color looking spot on like the real thing.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Good red wine color is important to me, as I’ve had alcoholic red wine in the past that had the translucency of blackcurrant juice, and the taste memory still gives me shudders. I will never again trust a thin-looking red wine.


The smell was metallic and kind of meaty (yuck), so I can confirm it did not smell like delicious red wine. The taste was even worse.

caption
It did not taste good.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Lulled into a false sense of security by the great color, I did not expect the horrible smell and matching taste.


There was something about the flavor that rung a lot of bells for me, and I had to keep going back for more sips to try and grasp onto what it was.

caption
Again, wheels were turning in my brain trying to figure out what the familiar yet unidentifiable taste was.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Then I remembered. It tasted and smelled like baked beans when you first pour them out of a tin can.


I had such high hopes for the De-Alcoholised Fre Premium Red wine, so I was a bit disappointed it didn’t follow through.

caption
It smelled and tasted faintly of baked beans.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

I know nonalcoholic wine is not supposed to be a carbon copy of the standard vin rouge, but there was massive room for improvement here. Just don’t bother with it.

I am giving it a point for color and a point for liquid consistency as “real” red wine, since they were both were very good.

Score: 2/5


Drink number five.

caption
The next-to-last drink at number five.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

I knew this was the sparkling wine as there were effervescent rows streaming up from the bottom of the glass. The color was the pale gold of a dry sparkling wine too.

caption
I confidently guessed this was the sparkling wine.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Weirdly, there was no smell. None at all. No fruitiness, no floral notes. It was almost like sniffing crisp mountain air. I couldn’t even smell the carbonation the happy beads of bubbles were giving off.

caption
There was no smell to this drink.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

But the taste was that of a light and dry prosecco-esque drink.

caption
It tasted light and like a sparkling wine.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

I would go out on a limb (knowing nothing about the sparkling wine-making process) and say there’s a heavier ingredient at play to weigh down the softness of the taste, but it was in no way overpowering. It was exactly what I would pick from a selection of sparkling wines if I thought they were alcoholic.


Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol Free Organic Sparkling Wine was contestant number five.

caption
You’ll be feeling fine with this sparkling wine
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

This is such a great product if you’re hankering for a glass of non-alcoholic bubbles. The bottle and label looked amazing, and it also gave a satisfying “pop” when the cork was taken out.

My only suggestion would be for the drink to smell of something so it completed the five-sense experience of drinking. But if this meant adding a scent that disrupts the actual taste then I could live without it!

Score: 4/5


The final taste-test with number six.

caption
The last drink.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

Oh, this looked as though it was a cross between a wine and beer. It was cloudy but clear, and had a great color and fizz. The smell was tart though, but not in an unpleasant way.

caption
It looked like a wine and beer hybrid.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

The consistency was smooth and the tart taste hit me first, but then something unexpected happened …

caption
The liquid’s consistency was smooth.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

… the taste changed halfway through.

caption
Surprisingly, the taste changed.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

It went from a quite sharp tone that melted into a buttery honey flavor which was very unexpected. This had to be the sparkling mead – does all mead taste like this?

My editor tried a sip and her first words were: “What a journey.”


It was the 0.5% ABV Gosnells Sparkling Mead — my eyes had been opened.

caption
The sparkling mead gave a surprising twist.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

The twist in the taste, which was something on par with toffee popcorn, took me completely by surprise. There was nothing in the smell that suggested a sweet treat for your taste buds was waiting. Whether it was a novelty or if this was how all mead reacts upon drinking it, I liked it a lot.

It’s not quite a sparkling-something you’d toast with at a special occasion, but as a low-alcoholic drink at 0.5% ABV this was pretty good.

Score: 4/5


My winner was Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol Free Organic Sparkling Wine because it was so close to the real thing.

caption
Sparkling wine took the top spot.
source
Kiara Keane/Insider

I love a glass of fizz and if I had to give up a bottle of boozy bubbles then I’d be more than happy to quaff this instead.

Read more:

I taste-tested 5 brands of nonalcoholic beer, and there was one I’d happily order at a bar

I’m giving up alcohol during January for the 3rd year in a row. Here’s how it helps me understand my relationship with drinking after almost losing a loved one to alcoholism

11 health benefits that have been linked to drinking alcohol in moderation

The oldest winery in America is 1.5 hours north of Manhattan, has a sprawling wine cave, and found a loophole so it could stay open during Prohibition. I spent an afternoon checking it out – here’s what it’s like.