As more people identify as “sober curious” — meaning they’re examining their relationship with alcohol and experimenting with not drinking — non-alcoholic wine is becoming a permanent fixture on at-home bar carts and in wine refrigerators and liquor cabinets, which is encouraging brands to provide shoppers with new, high-quality options. That doesn't mean non-alcoholic wine tastes exactly like its alcoholic counterparts. But it offers a substitute for people who choose not to drink, yet don’t want to give up the ritual of having a glass of wine at dinner or at a party with friends, said Casey McGuire Davidson, a life and sobriety coach.
SKIP AHEAD Best non-alcoholic wine | What is non-alcoholic wine | How to shop for non-alcoholic wine | Where to buy non-alcoholic wine | What is Dry January?
Dry January and Sober October — months during which people choose to take extended breaks from alcohol — are concentrated periods of time that may lead some to seek out non-alcoholic wine and other beverages. However, others look for non-alcoholic wine year round whether they’re purchasing a bottle for themselves, as a gift for others or to provide a non-alcoholic option at a gathering they’re hosting. To help ensure you’re buying non-alcoholic wine that matches your flavor preferences, we spoke to experts about how to shop for non-alcoholic reds, whites, rosés and more — plus, we got details on what non-alcoholic wine is exactly.
The best non-alcoholic wine of 2023
“In a good quality alcohol-removed wine, the aromas, flavors and finish are all very similar to full-strength wine, but it usually has a lighter body simply due to the absence of alcohol,” said Katie Gallagher, principal wine merchant at Whole Foods Market. All the non-alcoholic wine below follows the traditional winemaking process before the alcohol is removed — experts said these wines are the most similar to alcoholic wines as far as quality, flavor and aroma go, which is why they recommend them. We included different types of non-alcoholic wines across price ranges and from different regions to help you get a sense of what’s available.
Wölffer Estate Spring In A Bottle Rosé
Nick Bodkins, CEO and cofounder of Boisson, a non-alcoholic drinks retailer with locations in New York and California, said sparkling non-alcoholic wines are usually the closest in flavor to their alcoholic counterparts. The carbon dioxide that creates the bubbles helps the nose of the wines, meaning the scents and aromas the wine gives off. Wölffer Estates Spring In A Bottle Rosé balances acidity with fruitiness, the brand says, and is a light option you can drink on its own or add to cocktails.
Joyus Non-Alcoholic Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol in red wine is an effective carrier of nose and notes, so the flavor of non-alcoholic red wine doesn't stack up as well compared to other types, Bodkins said. With that being said, there are great options on the market, like this cabernet sauvignon from Joyus, which Chris Marshall, founder and owner of Sans Bar, an alcohol-free bar in Austin, Texas, recommended. The red wine is aged on American oak and has the complexity, tannins and warmths of a traditional cabernet, the brand says. It offers notes of berries and vanilla, too. Bodkins also suggested drinking non-alcoholic red wine a bit colder than you would drink alcoholic red wine to better bring out the flavor.
Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Chardonnay
This chardonnay was one of the first non-alcoholic wines I tried and it even got the seal of approval from many of my friends who were weary about trying non-alcoholic vino. It’s light and crisp, and the brand says it has a relatively long aftertaste, which I noticed. There are fruity, citrus notes, too. Bodkins recommends drinking non-alcoholic flat white wine warmer than you would normally drink its alcoholic counterpart.
Fre Premium Red Blend
I’ve tried Fre’s Premium Red Blend, too, which also has a longer aftertaste (the brand calls it a “lingering finish”). The non-alcoholic wine is rich and smooth with a subtle smokiness, Fre says. It offers notes of fruity cherry and grape flavors.
Prima Pave Blanc De Blancs
Marshall said Prima Pave’s Blanc De Blancs is one of his favorite non-alcoholic wines. It’s a blend of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer, which creates notes of white peach, green apple, honeydew, kiwi and elderflower, the brand says. The wine also has a dry finish.
Surely Non-Alcoholic Bubbly Red Can
Non-alcoholic wine brand Surely sells its beverages in bottles as well as cans like these, which are easy to pack in a cooler to bring to the beach, on a picnic or to a barbecue. Surely’s non-alcoholic bubbly red wine is a blend of cabernet and pinot noir, giving it cherry notes and a dry finish, the brand says. It has a lighter body and a sharper flavor, too.
Giesen New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Giesen, a New Zealand based winery, offers a non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc in addition to a rosé, riesling, premium red and more. The brand says it has a fresh, refreshing flavor.
What is non-alcoholic wine? How is it made?
Wine with 0.5% or less alcohol by volume (ABV) is considered “non-alcoholic,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You also may see non-alcoholic wine referred to as “dealcoholized” or “alcohol-removed” wine, all of which means the same thing: 0.5% or less ABV. “Alcohol-free,” however, can only be used to describe beverages with no detectable alcohol, the FDA says.
Experts told us that “dealcoholized” or “alcohol-removed” are actually better ways to think about what non-alcoholic wine is because these beverages started as wine in the first place.
“Alcohol-removed wines are grown, harvested and fermented in the same fashion as full-strength wines, however the alcohol is then removed,” Gallagher said. “After removing the alcohol, there is no more than 0.5% ABV left in the wine.”
You’ll also see non-alcoholic wine options on the market that are never fermented, Gallagher said. But fermentation — the process through which sugar converts to alcohol — “unlocks” the flavor of wine, so those that are never fermented often lack the flavor profile and character that makes the taste of wine so distinct, she explained. They also often contain additional ingredients like fruit extracts, spices, teas and more. “They’re designed and crafted to emulate many of the notes and fragrances of wines without the winemaking process,” Bodkins said.
How to shop for non-alcoholic wine
Other than looking for options made according to the traditional winemaking process, shopping for non-alcoholic wine is a bit of a guessing game. You need to try different brands and varieties to understand where your preferences lie.
If you’re new to non-alcoholic wines, Bodkins recommends starting with sparking varieties. "Ethanol (alcohol) is a flavor agent,” he said, meaning it carries tastes and scents well to your nose and tongue. But when you de-alcoholize something, it often tastes "flat" on its own. Because of this, “you need to mix or add something to help carry the flavor essences still present in the dealcoholized items. Carbonation is a great way to do this, as its bubbles deliver those scents and flavor molecules to your palate,” he explained.
Also think about what types of wine you typically like and what regions they’re from, and purchase non-alcoholic equivalents to try.
Gallagher noted that it’s important to read the ingredients listed on the bottle (or can) of whatever non-alcoholic wine you purchase in case any contain ingredients you’re looking to avoid.
Where to buy non-alcoholic wine
As the non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirits industry grows, shoppers’ pool of beverage options is only expanding and getting your hands on them is becoming much more accessible. In addition to local stores in your neighborhood and selling products through their websites, some brands are also available at large retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart and more, in addition to alcohol-specific online delivery services like Drizly. Non-alcoholic retailers like Boisson, The New Bar (one of our favorite Latino-owned businesses) and The Zero Proof ship beverages across the country, and you can also use grocery delivery services like Instacart and Gopuff.
How to store non-alcoholic wine and how long it lasts
After opening non-alcoholic wine, enjoy it for up to four days and store it in the refrigerator, Gallagher said. Be sure to keep it fresh by reusing the screw cap or using a wine stopper.
What does “sober curious” mean?
“Sober curious is a term for people who don’t necessarily qualify as having an alcohol use disorder, but are questioning their relationship with alcohol and how it’s prevalent in society,” Davidson said. And sober curiosity is being driven by Gen Z, mostly because the health effects of alcohol are more widely understood by those of this generation compared to baby boomers, millennials and Gen X, she explained. But there also used to be a “significant stigma” around people who chose not to drink or to stop drinking — people would assume they had an alcohol use disorder, Davidson said. That stigma is now changing as sober curiosity enters the conversation.
“In the last decade, there’s been this explosion of the sober curious movement and people freely talking about why they stopped drinking or don’t choose to drink at all,” Davidson said. “They’re proud of it and they don’t feel the need to adopt a label around their relationship with alcohol.”
What is Dry January? What is Sober October?
Dry January originally started in the United Kingdom in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK, a nonprofit group. “The idea was to steer clear of alcohol for the whole month following the holidays and the new year, when people tend to drink heavily,” Davidson explained. Now almost a decade later, Dry January has caught on more and more, and people across the world participate, she said. In 2022, participation in Dry January grew 35% in the United States, a jump from 21% of consumers who partook in 2019, according to CGA, a food and drink market research company.
Sober October is similar to Dry January — people give up alcohol for the entire month. It started in the UK as a way to raise money for a cancer center, although those across the world now partake.
Davidson said one of the biggest fears people often have about not drinking is being socially ostracized. But Dry January and Sober October — in addition to more bars, restaurants and retailers selling non-alcoholic options — has normalized conversations around sober curiosity. “People now have resources to explore alcohol-free life without the fear of feeling alone,” she said.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Casey McGuire Davidson is a life and sobriety coach, and host of The Hello Someday Podcast.
- Katie Gallagher is the principal wine merchant at Whole Foods Market.
- Nick Bodkins is the CEO and cofounder of Boisson, a non-alcoholic drinks retailer with locations in New York and California.
- Chris Marshall is the owner and founder of Sans Bar, an alcohol-free bar in Austin, Texas.
Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.