Review: Two Wines That Make a Case for Skipping the Booze

A plush orange wine and some bright bubbles mark a turning point for non-alcoholic vino

A bottle of Sparkling Verdejo from Null Wines, a good new non-alcoholic wine option

Null Wines Sparkling Verdejo: A fresh, bright non-alc option

By Kate Dingwall

Years ago, non-alcoholic wines were, well, swill — undrinkable at worst and a sacrifice at best. And while the category is not new in any form, some new brands are making very good options that don’t feel like you’re skimping on taste.

Take Proxies, a non-alcoholic wine project from the Toronto-based Acid League, which recently teamed up with a string of sommeliers for some limited-edition collaborations. Andre Hueston Mack made a pinot noir(ish). Sean Brock made a crunchy, rich red from Appalachian ingredients, like paw-paws and pine. 

Their newest release is a bright orange wine, dubbed Vinta, from Pinch Chinese’s Miguel de Leon, Michelin Guide’s recent Sommelier of the Year winner. It’s the first orange wine of its kind (read: you can drink a bottle and still feel bright and cheery), and a great one of that.

Null Wines, a relatively new player in the booze-free space that sources their sparkling Verdejo from a small winemaking collective — Diez Siglos — in Rueda, also launched a few new iterations this month. The first is a silky Garnacha and the second is a bright bottle of Spanish bubbles. I’d set the latter on the table at a dinner party, crack it for a toast, or use it to top up a vermouth spritz. 

What’s Next for Non-Alcoholic Wine?

Do booze-free bubbles and no-ABV wines have a place in your glass? Sommeliers duke it out.

The Vinta and the sparkling Verdejo are delicious by any standards, not standards set for sans-alcohol wines. I’ve had my fair share of booze-free bottles, and these releases are particularly exciting — easily two of the best non-alc bottles I’ve cracked. (I recently opened my fridge, and found myself pouring the Vinta instead of an open bottle of Beaujolais I had kicking around.)

While both of these wines are non-alcoholic in nature, they are made in completely opposite methods. Null Wines takes standard wines from small producers and distills out the alcohol. Acid League takes ingredients and builds on them until it hits a wine-ish profile. 

Proxies — an orange wine like no other
Proxies

Our tasting notes: 

Where to buy: Check the respective winemakers’ websites for availability (that’s drinkproxies.com and nullwines.com).