If you’re looking to cut back your alcohol intake, whatever your reasons, there is a growing selection of no and low-alcohol wines to chose from. If you’re not sure where to start - you’ve come to the right place!
At Spier, our winemakers pride themselves on crafting innovative wines of consistent quality. Our latest de-alcoholised and lower alcohol offerings have been expertly crafted to retain all the intricacies, flavours and characteristics of great wine, but without the added buzz. With South Africa currently under its 4th alcohol ban since the start of the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to consider alternative options.
Can A Wine Be A Wine Without Alcohol?
Technically speaking, no. Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by turning the sugar in grape juice into alcohol through a process called ‘fermentation’. To qualify as a wine, it must have an alcohol content from 6.5% to 22.0% alcohol by volume.
This said, winemakers use clever technologies to remove alcohol (to some extent) to please all palates. There are a few differences in taste as well as how the wines are made, so if you’ve also been wondering whether it is safe to serve to pregnant women or if it will come close to the ‘real deal’, here’s a quick guide:
Alcohol-Free or Non-Alcoholic Wine
This wine contains 0% alcohol. They tend to be sweeter, do not have the same wine flavour nuances and do not actually qualify as a wine as the grapes never went into the process of fermentation.
The alcohol content of this category of wine is less than 0.5%. It’s made using the same process as traditional wine but the alcohol is removed after fermentation through a special de-alcoholisation process. At less than 0.5% alcohol, this is a safe option for anyone wanting the flavour and aromatic essence of wine without the alcohol content.
Low Alcohol Wine
This is exactly what it sounds like—wines with low alcohol by volume (ABV), typically less than 4.5% and above 0.5%. It’s made by picking unripe grapes because their sugar content is lower and is made the same way as a conventional wine with its alcohol removed through a special de-alcoholisation process.
Does No and Low Alcohol Wine Taste Different?
Indeed they do. The truth is, the alcohol in wine helps transmit aromas and flavours to our palate and adds the texture and body we so enjoy. So the less the alcohol, the more the flavour differs.
But here’s the good news: there are a lot of subtle flavours to enjoy in these wines, and you can still get a similar sensory experience without all or as much alcohol. For example, you’ll be able to experience white wine’s lighter fruity, citrus, or floral flavours or pick up on the more nuanced aromatics of a red. In addition, you can still benefit from the antioxidants, which aren’t necessarily dependent on alcohol content.
When tasting a non-alcoholic or de-alcoholised wine, your best bet is to prepare yourself for a different sensory experience altogether. Sort of like a veggie burger - it’s just not going to be a classic beef burger you may be used to! But if you think of it as a different product altogether that has taste and texture in its own right, then you’re preparing yourself for a new experience. Remember these alcohol alternative beverages are not for everyone - it’s for those who choose it. While you should give your palate a bit of time to adjust to these wines’ delicate elegance and finesse, it won’t be the same experience - because it’s not traditional wine as we know it.
Introducing Spier De-Alcoholised & 5.5% Alcohol Wines
“Our winemaking team is constantly finding ways to innovate responsibly, fulfilling the evolving needs of our customers,” explains Spier’s MD, Frans Smit. “After much careful development, consideration and finessing, we’ve found a way to maintain the premium, layered wines our customers have come to expect from Spier. The key is starting with a really good base wine - taking no shortcuts along the way.”
While the Spier De-Alcoholised wine is a classic example of a wine that contains less than 0.5%, it’s worthwhile to note that the Spier 5.5% doesn't quite fit into the low alcohol category. Considered a lower alcohol wine, it was specially developed for wine lovers who don’t want to sacrifice a good glass of wine while following a healthier lifestyle.
Here’s what to expect:
• Spier 5.5% range takes its name after the alcohol percentage of the wine
• For those who want to decrease their alcohol intake
• Contains less than 50% of the alcohol and kilojoules
• Available in a Chenin Blanc and Shiraz
Spier De-alcoholised 0.5%
• The Spier De-alcoholised wine contains less than 0.5% alc/vol
• For those who choose not to or cannot drink alcohol
• There are no added flavourants and no artificial additives
• Available in a Chenin Blanc and Shiraz
Whatever your preconceptions, it's true to say that no and low-alcohol wines are proving their place on the shelf as production techniques are tweaked and improved. While the choice is completely up to you, just keep in mind: it’s not wine, so don’t expect it to be, and you’re in for a good time!
Both ranges are available on our online store shop.spier.co.za.