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  • Writer's pictureCarina Hopen

A Toast to Health: Your Comprehensive Guide to Dealcoholized Wines


What are Dealcoholized Wines?

Dealcoholized wines start life just like regular wines—they're made from grapes and undergo the same fermentation processes. The key difference is that the alcohol is carefully removed afterward, leaving you with a product that mimics the flavor and aroma profiles of traditional wines but without the alcohol content.


Compared to Wine Alternatives

Wine alternatives, such as sparkling cider, are often used to replace alcoholic beverages, but these do not start as alcoholic drinks. Unlike dealcoholized wine, wine alternatives may be made from juice and never undergo an alcohol-producing fermentation process. So while beverages like sparkling cider are tasty options, they won't offer the nuanced flavors that come from grape varietals and fermentation.


The Health Benefits of Dealcoholized Wines

Lower Caloric Intake

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, a significant portion of the caloric content comes from alcohol itself - alcohol = 7 calories per gram. A standard glass of red wine, for example, can contain around 125 calories, and a glass of white wine can have approximately 120 calories. In contrast, a similar serving of dealcoholized wine can contain as few as 20-30 calories. This reduction in caloric intake can be beneficial for those who are looking to maintain or lose weight. It offers a way to enjoy the social and culinary aspects of wine without worrying about excessive calorie consumption [1,2].

Alcohol contains empty calories, meaning it provides energy but lacks essential nutrients. Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially in excess, can contribute to weight gain because of the additional calorie intake. Additionally, alcohol can stimulate appetite, leading to overeating when consumed alongside meals.

Moreover, the metabolism of alcohol takes precedence over the metabolism of other nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. This means that when alcohol is present in the body, the burning of fat is temporarily halted, potentially leading to fat storage.


Safe for Pregnancy and Lactation

Most experts advise against alcohol consumption during pregnancy due to the potential risks it poses to the developing fetus. These risks include birth defects, developmental issues, and even miscarriage. Similarly, breastfeeding mothers are advised to limit alcohol consumption, as it can pass through breast milk and potentially affect the baby. Dealcoholized wine provides a way to participate in celebratory toasts or enjoy a wine-paired dinner without the health risks associated with alcohol. However, it's always best to consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.[3,4]


Other Health Considerations

If you're dealing with health issues like liver problems or certain types of cancer, or if you're on meds that don't play well with alcohol, regular wine can be a no-go. For instance, alcohol can make liver issues worse and can also ramp up the effects of some medications, like sedatives and antihistamines. [5]

Dealcoholized wine lets you enjoy the wine vibe and the taste without interfering with your health or your medications. It allows you to enjoy the social and taste-related benefits of wine without exacerbating health issues or interacting adversely with your medications. [6]


Is Red Wine Better?

Drinking a moderate amount of red wine has often been said to be good for your heart, but scientists aren't exactly sure why. A study in the Journal of Nutrition [7] looked at whether the elements in wine that aren’t alcohol could boost your body's ability to fight off harmful things called "radicals" that can damage cells. They also wanted to know if this had something to do with special compounds in wine called "phenols."

Ten healthy people drank some tap water and two types of dealcoholized wine: red and white. Red wine had a lot more phenols than white wine. After drinking the red wine, people had more antioxidants in their blood, which can help fight off cell damage. White wine and water didn't do that.


How to Select the Best Dealcoholized Wine for You

Determine Your Purpose

First things first, you have to ask yourself why you're opting for dealcoholized wine. Is it for a romantic dinner where you don't want to worry about overindulging? Or maybe you're more focused on health benefits, like lower calorie intake or avoiding alcohol interactions with medication. Your reasons will greatly influence the type of dealcoholized wine you'll want to go for. Some brands focus on taste, while others prioritize health benefits like low sugar content. So, know your "why" to make an informed choice.


Experiment and Taste

The dealcoholized wine market has grown significantly, offering a variety of options. Some brands come close to mimicking the complexity and richness of alcoholic wines, while others are best described as low-sugar grape juice for adults. Don't be afraid to sample a variety of brands. Experimenting is the only way you'll find out what you like. Consider buying sample packs that allow you to try different flavors without committing to a full bottle. 


Food Pairing

No wine—alcoholic or not—exists in a vacuum. What you plan to eat can dramatically affect how the wine tastes. Lighter white wines might be great with fish or chicken dishes, while bolder reds can stand up to hearty fare like steak or pasta with rich sauces. Just like with regular wines, it's a good idea to think about the flavors in your meal and how they will complement your drink. You can consult online pairing guides or even use an app that provides pairing suggestions based on the type of wine and dish you're having.


Occasion Appropriate

Let's face it, you wouldn't bring a sports drink to a formal dinner; the same logic applies to your wine selection. Consider the ambiance and the formality of the occasion when selecting a dealcoholized wine. Some brands package their wines in elegant bottles that easily blend into sophisticated settings. On the flip side, if you're having a casual hangout with friends, you might opt for something in a more laid-back packaging like cans.


Types of Dealcoholized Wines

Just like traditional wines, dealcoholized versions come in an array of types. Here are different types along with some retail options for you:

  • White: Geisen Sauvignon Blanc and Leitz Eins Zwei for white (Riesling)

  • Bubbly: Noughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling (Sparkling Rosé), Edenvale Sparkling Pinot

  • Red: Ariel Cabernet, Geisen Merlot, Edenvale Pinot

  • Rosé: Geiser Rosé

  • Red Blend: Edenvale Grenache/Shiraz, Grüvi Dry Red


Our Top Picks: The Best Dealcoholized Wine Brands 

  • Ariel Vineyards

  • Geiser

  • Edenvale

  • Noughty

  • Grüvi

  • Fre Wines

  • Leitz Eins Zwei

  •  

REFERENCES

  1. French, M. T., Norton, E. C., Fang, H., & Maclean, J. C. (2010). Alcohol consumption and body weight. Health economics, 19(7), 814–832. https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.1521

  2. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Alcohol: Balancing risks and benefits. Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/drinks-to-consume-in-moderation/alcohol-full-story/

  3. Polygenis, D., Wharton, S., Malmberg, C., Sherman, N., Kennedy, D., Koren, G., & Einarson, T. R. (1998). Moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the incidence of fetal malformations: a meta-analysis. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 20(1), 61–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0892-0362(97)00073-1

  4. Mennella, J. A., & Beauchamp, G. K. (1991). The transfer of alcohol to human milk. Effects ​​on flavor and the infant's behavior. The New England journal of medicine, 325(14), 981–985. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM199110033251401

  5. O'Shea, R. S., Dasarathy, S., McCullough, A. J., Practice Guideline Committee of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, & Practice Parameters Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology (2010). Alcoholic liver disease. Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.), 51(1), 307–328. https://doi.org/10.1002/hep.23258

  6. Weathermon, R., & Crabb, D. W. (1999). Alcohol and medication interactions. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 23(1), 40–54.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10890797/ 

  7. Serafini, M., Maiani, G., & Ferro-Luzzi, A. (1998). Alcohol-free red wine enhances plasma antioxidant capacity in humans. The Journal of nutrition, 128(6), 1003–1007. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/128.6.1003 

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