There are myriad reasons that one might want to imbibe some non-alcoholic wine. Maybe you have to drive, or maybe you just want to avoid a headache in the morning! Either way, the good news is that non-alcoholic wine is growing in popularity and you can certainly take advantage of the trend to enjoy some excellent wine while staying healthy and sober. Given the growing importance of this category of wine, there are actually many that taste good, and are quite enjoyable to drink!

The first company to truly tap into the non-alcoholic wine market was Ariel, which began selling non-alcoholic chardonnay in California in the 1980s. Prior to Ariel’s entry in the market, dealcoholized wines were widely believed to be of lesser quality than other, traditional wines. However, in 1986, Ariel’s Blanc went up against normal wines at the Los Angeles County Fair and won a gold medal, making it the first non-alcoholic wine to earn critical acclaim. Subsequently, the brand went on to win wine competitions around the world.

Ariel’s non-alcoholic wine was noticed by an American celebrity chef, Graham Kerr, who called it “remarkable… a wine of our time, a light-hearted celebration and a gracious gift of hospitality.” According to Ariel’s website, “After a long and fruitful relationship with Graham Kerr, ARIEL continued to see success. In the mid 90’s, articles began to appear in popular magazines hailing the health benefits of red wine for its source of polyphenols—powerful antioxidants long-believed to promote heart health and weight loss when consumed in moderate quantities daily. ARIEL dealcoholized wines, also rich in polyphenols, became an ideal alternative for those who wanted to incorporate red wine into their diets for its health benefits, but did not desire to drink alcohol every day.”

How is non-alcoholic wine produced? There are really two main methods that can be used to produce non-alcoholic wine: distillation and filtration. With distillation, the alcohol is distilled from the wine through a steaming process. Commercial producers of non-alcoholic wine place the wine in a very strong vacuum that allows for the wine’s boiling point to be lowered to around 70°F. This means that the wine can be distilled without ever heating to a point of oxidization. With filtration, he wine is forced under high pressure against a membrane that is so fine that only the water and alcohol can seep through it. The wine is then put past the membrane over and over again until the wine becomes a concentrate. Water is then added back to bring the wine to its original concentration – only now, there is little to no alcohol present.

You may be wondering, why drink non-alcoholic wine at all. Well, it turns out that powerful antioxidants called polyphenols provide serious health benefits, and they are just as powerful when being consumed without alcohol. Recently, wine has gained popularity as a heart-healthy beverage, due to its high level of anti-oxidants. The well-renowned Mayo Clinic has published studies attesting to the health benefits for the heart that are associated with drinking red wine, especially. However for some, an issue arises when regular wine contains alcohol, which can have adverse effects on consumers.