With the dawn of a new year often come the resolutions and promises to drink less. While previously going alcohol-free might have meant losing out on quality wines and opting for an alternative spirt-based drink, there’s now a fast-growing selection of quality low alcohol wines on offer.
Methods for reducing the alcohol content of wine, or indeed taking it out altogether, have become much more sophisticated, resulting in more balanced and characterful teetotal bottlings. The most popular method is reverse osmosis, a complex process that filters out water and alcohol. But lower ABV products (around 8% ABV) can also be achieved in the vineyard through the picking of less ripe grapes – resulting in less sugar to convert to alcohol. However, sometimes more sugar is added by winemakers to recreate the mouthfeel of wine, and the result can be little more than sugary flavoured grape juice. Even so, at a tasting of low and no alcohol wines, IWSC judges found a growing selection of options to impress even the most discerning sceptic.
Among the IWSC‘s top picks was Yellow Tail Pure Bright Chardonnay from the well known Australian brand, which judges hailed as ‘dry, buttery and honey-rich with bright citrus balance’ as well as praising its ‘silken texture’ – something not always found in low and no wine offerings.
There were some standout sparkling options, including supermarket giant Tesco’s low alcohol sparkling wine and Oddbird’s sherbet- and citrus-driven Spumante NV, suitable for those partial to a Prosecco.
Below, we’ve selected the best low and no alcohol wines from the IWSC 2021 for those looking to cut back on their drinking or simply curious to see how alcohol-free drinking is rapidly evolving.
Nine award-winning low and no alcohol wines from the IWSC 2021
- Casella Family Brands, Yellow Tail Pure Bright Chardonnay 2021; Australia. 95/100
- Vinada Wines, Crispy Chardonnay NV; France. 95/100
- Oddbird, Spumante NV; Italy. 90/100
- Les Grands Chais de France, Nozeco NV; France. 90/100
- Giesen Wines, 0% Sauvignon Blanc NV; New Zealand. 90/100
- Tesco, Low Alcohol Sparkling 2020; Spain. 90/100
- Forrest Wines, The Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021; New Zealand. 90/100
- Australian Vintage, McGuigan Zero Sparkling Brut NV; Australia. 90/100
- Australian Vintage, McGuigan Zero Shiraz NV; Australia. 90/100
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE Low and no alcohol drinks?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous low and no alcohol tasting process. That means that each drink sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC low and no judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the alcohol-free drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE low and no alcohol drinks?
Only the best low and no alcohol drinks sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver winners range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.
Top Rated Bottles
Casella Family Brands, Yellow Tail Pure Bright Chardonnay 2021
Vinada Wines, Crispy Chardonnay NV
Oddbird, Spumante NV
Les Grands Chais de France, Nozeco NV
Giesen Wines, 0% Sauvignon Blanc NV
Tesco, Low Alcohol Sparkling 2020 2020
Forrest Wines, The Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Australian Vintage, McGuigan Zero Sparkling Brut NV
Australian Vintage, McGuigan Zero Shiraz NV
The radical new wave of low and no drinks
Spirits Handpicked by IWSC
Award-winning low and no alcohol spirits
The best low and no alcohol drinks for Dry January
Get access to all our back issues via our free digital archive – and enjoy the best rate on a magazine subscription