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Will Alcohol Removed Wine Satisfy an Oenophile’s Palate?

Alcohol is such an important taste component of California Wine that you wonder what it could possibly taste like with out it. We took a test drive of an ‘Alcohol Removed’ wine during a gathering of local Paso Robles wine drinkers.

For our test drive we choose Sutter Home Fre Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. This St. Helena winery pioneered White Zinfandel in the 1970’s and continues to push the boundries of approachable wine, for as they say, ‘a great product for a fair price.’ Along with alcohol-removed wine they’re offerings include fruit infusion wines created with peach, wild berry, pineapple, watermelon & strawberry.

Alcohol Free wine is different from Alcohol Removed wine. With the removal process you still have a residual alcohol content of .05%. This is similar to near beers.

Here’s what we found on our tasting journey.

The Chardonnay was buttery/oaky to the red drinkers, but the white wine drinkers as a group struggled with it. Phrases like ‘It’s a little sweet.’ and ‘Too much citrus for me‘ were dominant as they reached for their bottle openers to open standard Chardonnay bottles . But, alcohol-removed Chardonnay wine was close to the real thing.

So, we’re giving Fre Chardonnay a ranking. Interesting wine, we’ll drink it if it’s hosted.

Now the Cabernet Sauvignon was a much different story.

Several of us tasted it and realized the joys tannin brings to a wine. It’s easy to complain about too tannic a wine, too much big taste. Some folks like a big tannic wine, some want a little finess. But tasting this you realize you need a bite, a little dryness to combine with food. This Cabernet tasted a lot like, well, grape juice but not as sweet. Drier but with no power.

So, we’re giving Fre Cabernet Sauvignon a – -✰ ranking. We wouldn’t drink it, even if it’s hosted. It just didn’t make the grade.

Other alcohol removed wines sold include Ariel, Freixenet and of course Martinelli‘s non-alcohol sparkling wine. These are generally found at grocery stores, Bev-Mo and Total Wine. Our two bottles cost $10 each at Bev-Mo.

But, as we always say, bet a $10 bill and see if this wine might be for you. But, we’d start with the Chardonnay.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

Bill & Erin Hodge write about California Wine, the estates & winemakers producing them and educational information about Vino. Living in California Wine Country provides a front row seat to the places you want to visit the most here in the Golden State.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.

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