These essentially non-alcoholic wines are part of a growing trend towards low ABV vino in the U.K..
Though many beverage trends are similar on both sides of the pond—things like the growth of craft spirits or a booming number of breweries—others don’t have the wherewithal to travel the necessary 3,500 miles. One such example is non-alcoholic alcoholic drinks. Though the market for N/A beverages in the States has remained rather small, it’s continued to pick up steam in the United Kingdom where even Budweiser has released a non-alcoholic version of its flagship that’s not available in the U.S.. British grocery stores have also been increasing their offerings of low-alcohol and low-calorie wines, and now, two major supermarket chains have announced they plan to add new, essentially non-alcoholic wines to store shelves – vinos that only clock in at 0.5 percent ABV.
According to The Times, Tesco, the U.K.’s largest grocery chain, has added two 0.5 percent sparkling wines today, and Marks & Spencer, one of the country’s best-known retailers, plans to add two 0.5 percent wines in January.
Tesco’s offerings are Spanish wines being sold under the Tesco brand name. The “Tesco Low Alcohol Sparkling Rosé Wine” is made from Garnacha grapes, and the “Tesco Low Alcohol Sparkling White Wine” is made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. They “use an innovative technology called 'spinning cone' that gently removes the alcohol creating a great tasting drink with less than 0.5% alcohol.” Both bottles retail for just £3.75 each, or only about $5 – which is in part because these “wines” don’t face the same taxes that higher alcohol drinks do. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer’s new 0.5 percent wines will both be from Australia: a white and rosé made from Moscat grapes.
That said, just because low-alcohol wines are growing in popularity doesn’t mean they are winning over professionals. “My advice is to approach all low-alcohol wines with caution,” warned Times wine critic Jane MacQuitty. “The problem is that if you remove alcohol, you are also removing flavor and most of the low-alcohol and de-alcoholized wines I’ve tasted have been vile, sticky, grubby, luridly coloured liquids that bear no relation to wine.” But who knows, maybe you’ll feel differently??