In the summer months, there can be nothing better than sitting in the garden with a chilled glass of white, popping open a glass of fizz to toast a special occasion, or enjoying a delicious barbecue with a frosty can of beer. But if you're the designated driver, pregnant, or simply don't feel like drinking alcohol that day, sometimes it can feel like you're missing out when everyone else is drinking but you...
Well, now you can!
If you’ve never ventured into the world of low-alcohol beverages before — now is the time! This is not only set to be one of the hottest trends this summer, but also shows no signs of slowing down thanks to their inclusive nature and delicious taste.
We chatted to wine buyer April Rogers about the low-alcohol trend, how the drinks are made, and fun ways to drink them.
What does low-alcohol mean?
Low-alcohol wines and beers are brewed, barreled and fermented just like regular wine, before the alcohol content is removed.
“It’s made the same way, only the alcohol is taken out after it’s been fermented and aged so there’s less than 0.5% alcohol in the finished product. This means that it can be classified as a non-alcoholic beverage.”
How they remove the alcohol is actually pretty simple…
"Just like how spirits are distilled into order to purify and strengthen the alcohol content, low-alcohol beers and wines are distilled (and the alcohol’s removed, rather than kept) in order to reduce and remove the alcohol content.”
Because it’s made the same way, you get all the same varieties that are available in alcoholic form, even sparkling wines - and the drink of the moment: Prosecco!
Make sure to check out Nosecco - a low-alcohol prosecco with the same distinctive refined bubbles and taste as the alcoholic stuff. Pop a bottle, grab a Champagne flute and join in with the after-dinner toast at special occasions. We'll raise a glass to that!
And it's not all wines and bubbly, either. There are also plenty of low- and no-alcohol beers in store, including BrewDog's 'Nanny State' hoppy ale for the craft beerheads out there. Just like with wines, the finished product is distilled to remove the alcohol before that fizz is put back in, making sure every sip is just as carbonated and refreshing as its alcohol-containing counterpart.
What does it taste like?
The same grape varieties and barreling processes are used in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines, meaning the taste is almost identical, according to wine expert April. In fact, “A good low-alcohol wine should taste just like the alcoholic version.
"The alcohol content of wine adds very little in terms of flavour to the finished product - it’s more of a background sharpness than anything else. So when you take this out, low-alcohol wine shouldn’t taste too different.”
Think a drink needs a high alcohol content in order to achieve a full-bodied flavour? Think again. Be Free's low-alcohol Merlot is packed with rich and deep berry notes that sing out loud and clear. An unmistakably delicious red with oaky undertones, even the utmost of wine buffs will enjoy a glass of this one.
As for low-alcohol beers, removing the alcohol has a slightly different effect on the final flavour of the drink due to the types of sugars (fermented hops and malt) in the finished product. When these alcoholic sugars are removed, this can affect the final flavour profile of the brew.
However many craft brewers, like Brewdog, have started adding extra hops or malt to their low-alcohol recipes in order to make sure that the finished product has just as much yeast-y oomph as its alcoholic version.
What else can you do with low-alcohol drinks?
When it comes to low-alcohol beers, we think there's no better way than cracking open an ice-cold can and drinking it straight. If it ain't broke...
As for wines, April says: “If anything, low-alcohol wines are slightly sweeter than their alcoholic equivalent, making them the perfect component in fruity mocktails."
Or, for a fruity and refreshing take on a low-alcohol wine cocktail, mix equal parts Be Free Rosé and lemonade, then top up with a splash of Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry and Lemon Cordial. Delicious, refreshing, and alcohol free!