Non Alcoholic And Low Alcohol Wine & Alternatives

The nolo sector, as it’s become affectionately known, is one of the fastest-growing categories in the UK at the moment and we’ve taken note. We stock some credible and delicious sparkling, white, rosé and red options in our range and premium no and lo sparkling tea wine/champagne alternatives

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We’re noticing an uplift in demand for no and low alcohol wines, reflecting the wider national trend. With close to half of all UK adults either abstaining or cutting down on alcohol consumption, it’s not surprising that sales of nolo wines grew by 64% in the year ending October 2021. The nolo wine category is going to be one to watch.

While brewers and spirit distillers have reacted relatively swiftly and positively, wine producers have taken longer to commit to this new and growing category. The main reason being that it’s a much more difficult process to lower or remove the alcohol without losing the integrity of the original product.

Spirits like gin are flavoured by the careful infusion of botanicals and rums take most of their character from the charred wooden barrels that they’re matured in so taking away the alcohol doesn’t really impact on these flavours.

Beers achieve a lot of their flavour from the hops used in the brewing process and the majority of beers come out at around half the level of alcohol as wine, or even less. It’s much easier to remove the alcohol from beer and lose less flavour in the process. Plus, brewers can also counter the small loss of flavour by using more aromatic hops.

Wines, on the other hand, take the majority of their flavour from their single raw ingredient, grapes, and with alcohol levels ranging mostly between 11-14.5%, there’s much more alcohol to remove with potentially higher flavour loss in the process.

There are a couple of key techniques used to take out the alcohol in wine. The most popular at the moment is vacuum distillation. The reduced pressure of this process lowers ethanol’s boiling point substantially so that the alcohol evaporates before the flavour compounds in the wine do.

The second technique is a variant of the previous one and is known as the spinning cone method. This is a gentler process and is thought to be the best one currently for preserving the original wine’s character.

Some wine producers are experimenting with techniques that will reduce alcohol levels in their wines to around 9.5% or less by employing specific vine pruning techniques that reduce the vine’s ability to produce sugars, others like producers of Moscato d’Asti are arresting the fermentation early through chilling the grape must which leaves a sweet, spritzy wine around 4.5-5.5%.

The terms used for no and low alcohol wines can be a little confusing as UK rules differ from many other countries. For example, a UK-made wine can only be referred to as ‘alcohol-free’ if it comes in under 0.05% ABV, whereas for most of Europe and the US, the maximum limit is 0.5% ABV. UK-made wines that come in under 0.5% are classed as ‘De-alcoholised’, while those that fall above this but below 1.2% are labelled ‘Low alcohol’.

The McGuigan Zero range is a great example of alcohol-free wine (under UK rules, de-alcoholised, as they achieve 0.5% ABV). With two white options in Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, a rosé and a Shiraz, this is the UK’s number 1 still non-alcoholic wine brand.

For sparkling options, we have the non-alcoholic sparkling wine from Prosecco producer Scavi and Ray. Using a gentle vacuum-based de-alcoholisation process, the wine retains a lovely fresh and fruity character with lively bubbles and an attractive sweetness.

Lyre’s Classico is another non-alcoholic sparkling drink that’s a great imitator of an Italian fizz. Distinctively aromatic with fine acidity and a tart apple and rich peach character on the palate.

And for the festive season, we have the perfect non-alcoholic mulled punch that the whole family can enjoy. Hitzkopf Kinderpunch comes in litre bottles or a 10-litre bag-in-box.

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