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NA Red Wines Are Finally Hitting Their Stride

A decade ago, the idea that a bottle of non-alcoholic wine could be anything other than a pale imitation of the real thing was quite fringe.

But as the NA drinks movement continues to grow and diversify, there is no shortage of exceptional selections that achieve, or at least come very close to, the complexity of alcoholic ones. This is helping to bring a wider range of consumers—both drinkers and non-drinkers—into the alcohol-free fold.

Adam Kerr, director of food and beverage at Napa’s Bardessono Hotel & Spa, estimates that one in 50 guests are now asking for non-alcoholic wines, which has led the property to announce a “N/A-pa concierge” program to help guests find great bottles.

“Non-alcoholic wines have historically received a bad reputation in taste for good reasons, as the quality was just not there,” says Kerr. “Many brands who sell NA wines are making strides to overcome this stigma.”

Reds, in particular, have struggled to achieve the quality of NA sparkling and whites, but that’s changing. We decided it was time to tap drink pros for their picks.

These selections include both dealcoholized wines, which are traditionally-made wines with their alcohol removed, and alternatives that approximate the flavor and texture of wine. Both have their merits. Here are the top non-alcoholic red wines, according to professionals.

Missing Thorn Red
Image Coutesy of Missing Thorn

Missing Thorn by Aaron Pott

Kerr credits the improving reputation of non-alcoholic wines to producers like Aaron Pott, one of the most well-respected winemakers in Napa. Pott founded Missing Thorn with Stephanie Honig to bring all the bells and whistles of the traditional wine tasting experience to non-drinkers.

“He uses a process that actually ‘removes’ the alcohol from the wine,” says Kerr. “They offer a white, a red, a rose and a sparkling, all of which are amazing. Aaron is one of the greatest winemakers the valley has, and his quest to bring the world an NA wine that looks, tastes and smells like great wine was much needed and appreciated.”

With rich red berry and woodsy notes, the Missing Thorn red is well-balanced and layered, with a velvety finish. It goes wonderfully with strong cheeses and charcuterie.

These popular wines do sell out, so sign-up for news on the latest Missing Thorn releases via the subscription form on the website.

NON7 STEWED CHERRY & COFFEE
Image Courtesy of NON

NON 7

Aaron Trotman’s Australian operation offers a red, white and rosé, “all of which are absolutely delicious,” says Kerr. “This brand has changed my concept of what a non-alcoholic wine can be.”

The red, in particular, is exceptional. “The red has garam masala, cold brew coffee and sour cherries, resulting in a vibrancy that awakens the palate,” he says.

Caleb Ganzer, managing partner at La Compagnie wine bar in the SoHo and Flatiron neighborhoods of New York, also finds NON 7 to be “a great, spiced red wine alternative that pairs well with a wide variety of foods.”

Ganzer feels that the technology for producing NA red wines still has a fair way to go, while the sparkling category has become pretty high-level (he calls out Leitz Sparkling Rosé and French Bloom La Cuvée, specifically). That’s why La Compagnie’s go-to NA reds are more often wine alternatives. He suggests pairing Non 7 with roast meats, such as duck and turkey.

Lautus Savvy Red
Image Courtesy of Lautus

Lautus Savvy Red

At The Zero Co, Atlanta’s first bottle shop dedicated to non-alcoholic wines, this well-balanced red blend has become a staff favorite for its juicy red fruit and hint of oak.

The de-alcoholized wine consists of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage sourced from the Western Cape province of South Africa, and it’s aged in oak for nine to 12 months.

To enhance the flavor even more, Hanna Mazza of the Zero Co. says the staff likes to “add a few drops of zero-proof bitters, which helps mimic the complexity and depth of traditional wines, bringing us closer to the profiles we love.”

Noughty Non-Alcoholic Rouge
Image Courtesy of Noughty

Noughty Non-Alcoholic Rouge

“The Syrah grape is great in dealcoholized wines—it adds an extra pepper bite to it,” says Mazza about this “standout” NA bottle from Darling, South Africa, that does well with a slight chill. All of Noughty’s wines use 100% organic grapes with minimal intervention.

Proxies Red Clay
Image Courtesy of Proxies

Red Ember and Red Clay by Proxies

In Ryan Schmied’s many years of buying wines for retail stores and restaurants, he never found a non-alcoholic red that he felt comfortable selling to customers, given that dealcoholization “often strips the wine of much of its character, resulting in off-putting flat flavor profiles and textures,” he says.

That has recently changed, thanks to increased demand and exciting new producers. The NA reds that are most interesting to Schmied, who is the director of food and beverage at Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton in Grand Rapids, MI, are wine alternatives that “blend various fruit juices, teas and spices to mimic wine’s complex attributes, including acidity, tannins, body, heat, flavors and texture.”

His two current favorite bottles of red are Red Clay and Red Ember by Proxies. “They not only taste great, which is important, but they also accompany food beautifully thanks to their tannic and bright, zippy components," he says.

Odd Bird GSM
Image Courtesy of Odd Bird

Oddbird GSM

This dry red from Saint-Chinian in the South of France is made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan, with soft tannins and rich notes of red berries and spices. It’s another staff favorite bottle at the Zero Co. because of its complexity with juicy red fruits up front, followed by a nice dry finish.

Saint Viviana Cabernet Sauvignon
Image Courtesy of The Zero Proof

Saint Viviana Cabernet Sauvignon

Made by experienced winemakers and a master sommelier in Paso Robles, California, this full-bodied Cabernet is a delightfully complex option that pairs well with steaks and rich, meaty dishes.

“It has become a customer favorite since it is so bright and full bodied, with a bold tannic structure,” says Mazza.


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