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April 2015

Non Alcoholic Wines Taste Test

In the spirit of trying out alternatives to that nightly glass of wine, I went in search of dealcoholised or non alcoholic wines at my local Fred Meyer.  There were two that I had heard of and researched online - Fre and Ariel.

Both stated on the label that they were under 0.5% alcohol, which was encouraging, and I couldn't wait to get home to open them up and be dazzled.  I tried the Fre wine first, since it was cheaper (about $6) and I knew less about it than Ariel.

Fre dealcoholised

Here's the description of Fre 2012 Red Blend on their website:

"Fre Red Blend offers a deep ruby color and ripe, black cherry scented aromas. Smooth and rich, it offers plenty of bright, grape, and cherry fruit with an intriguing smoky flavor. Fre Red Blend ends with a long, fruity, lingering finish. This alcohol removed wine is delightful on its own or paired with salmon, turkey, chicken and ham dishes, as well as pasta, pizza, and grilled meats."

Color wise they were spot on, but unfortunately that's where the similarities ended.  There was no long lingering finish, just a rather awkward bitter aftertaste, and the first mouthful was insipid, although there was a hint of cherry.  I cut my losses and went on to the bottle of Ariel, which was 50% more expensive at $9.  My hopes were high.

Ariel dealcoholised

Sadly those hopes were dashed when I poured my first (and last) glass of Ariel.  It was surprisingly similar to the Fre Red Blend, not pleasant to drink, watery, pruney, some cherry and a bitter finish.

Ariel's website describes this Cabernet Sauvignon wine as:

"Offering aromas of black currants, cherry, blueberries and chocolate, with soft tannins and a dry finish."

But it didn't cut it for me.  Turns out that alcohol in the wine is kind of an essential ingredient to making a wine that you would want to drink.  I'm sorry Fre and Ariel - I really wanted to like you, but you were just not anywhere close to being a good alternative.  I'll stick to coconut water on my wine nights off.


2009 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Aix

Aix delille

Superb wine drinking perfectly right now.  So glad I waited three years to try this.  It's a big wine - 14.9% alcohol, with a deep, dark, squid ink color.  The Syrah style blend is heavy but it works.  This wine packs a punch and is a big mouthful.  There is a ton of fruit - strawberries, blackcurrent and good tannins.  Overall a very solid structure that will hold up for another few years.

I paid around $30 for it a few years ago and it retails now around $40 so quite a good investment too.


Caymus Vineyards 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon

Caymus

You'll either love it or hate it.  It is a polarising wine, which is surprising, given that it costs around $70 a bottle.  For that price you'd think you'd be buying something great.

Well many do, but many don't.  Spend 5 minutes on the Cellar Tracker reviews of this wine and you'll find plenty of fans and plenty of haters.

"The ladies like it."
"A hot sweet mess."
"Easy drinking and pleasant on the taste."
"Another overblown fruit bomb that was again too sweet, too rich, too cloying."

Personally I'm with the last reviewer - I did not like it one bit.  One glass of it left be wanting to rinse my mouth out with cold water and go brush my teeth.  It is so sweet that you could mistake it for dessert wine, so dark in color you could mistake it for Welch's grape juice.  Just not good, with or without food.

It's just under 15% alcohol as well so a couple of glasses of this prune juice will send your alcohol unit count skyrocketing.

I've tried plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon big Napa wines and this was the most disappointing yet. What a total waste money.

Update

OK maybe I was a little harsh.  I put this bottle of Caymus in the fridge overnight and tried it on day 2 and it had mellowed out.  A lot of the heat and sweetness I'd objected to had disappeared and it was much more drinkable.  I squeezed out a last glass on day 3 and it was even better.  I still wouldn't buy it again though.


How to calculate units of alcohol

by Janine / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Many regular drinks have no idea how many actual of units of alcohol they are consuming and with the guidelines set at around 20 units per week (less for women), it is easy to find yourself well over the recommended limits after only two or three nights out on the town.

Making matters worse, wine drinkers have probably been drinking many more units than they think.  Why?  Because many red wines are now made with more alcohol.  It's not unusual to find bottles of Cabernet or Shiraz topping 14% alcohol, especially from hotter climates like Australia and Chile.

So how do you figure out how many units were in those three large glasses of wine that you enjoyed last night when you met your friends for dinner?  It's actually quite simple. Here's how you calculate it:

Step 1: Find out or guess how many mls of liquid your wine glass holds.  Tip: A small glass of wine is usually about 125 mls and a large glass is around 250 mls.

Step 2: Take a look at the wine bottle label and look for the ABV (alcohol by volume) amount.  It will usually range between 12.5% to 15%.

Step 3: Multiple the number of mls by the percentage number and divide by 1,000.

Example:  I drink one large glass of wine, which holds 250 mls of wine, and the red Aussie Shiraz that I'm drinking is 14%.  The calculation would be 250 x 14 = 3,500.  3,500/1000 = 3.5 units.

So those three large glasses of wine that you drank last night added up to a whopping 10.5 units, or half of your weekly allowance!  It's easy to see why so many people are probably drinking way more than they think they are and could be putting their health at risk.