Over at Wine Enthusiast, they have a selection of best non-alcoholic wines based on customer reviews, plus a quick synopsis of the category which includes a blurb on how they do it:
"...the two most common ways are vacuum distillation and reverse osmosis. In vacuum distillation, the beverage is heated to the point where the alcohol evaporates. During the practice of reverse osmosis, wine is run “through a filter, and the filter separates the alcohol based on the size of the molecule,” Terry Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Hill Street Beverage Company Inc. told Wine Enthusiast. “Alcohol is a bigger molecule than water, so you can literally run it through like a microscopic strainer and filter the alcohol off.”
You can read the whole thing here. Looking to nab some juice here in Vancouver? Check out Sansorium, AFBev, and Drive Canteen!
For the longest time, the vast majority of non-alcohol beer out there was, uh, not good. I always equated the only ones really available to most of us, your big, industrial selections like Molson Exel and Labatt .5, with the likes of fizzy cereal water. Not exactly my thing.
But we have so many fun, high-quality options now, right? I mean, the discovery of these (plus enjoyable alcohol-free takes on wine, spirits and cocktails) is why I started this whole venture. People used to say that people like me, who DOES drink traditional wine, beer, and spirits on the regular, will never find anything of interest because, well, there's no booze in them.
O.K., but figuring I enjoy coffee, tea, sodas, kombucha, and so on led me to believe that couldn't be the case. And, really, I was right. The only reason that perspective resonated is because hardly any of us had tried great product, often made in small batches with care, using quality ingredients.
So as I'm on this journey exploring, among other things, non-alcoholic beer - even though I'm already really loving stuff from Big Drop Brewing, Sober Carpenter, Phillip's iOTA, Grüvi, and (so many) more, I know I'm still likely gonna stumble on duds.
When that happens, I'm going to revert to an old hack I've used when one of those 'fizzy cereal waters' have come into my possession:
Make it into a michelada. Seriously, it really fixes everything.
For those not in the know, here's the Wikipedia synopsis:
A michelada is a Mexican drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers. It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. There are numerous variations of this beverage throughout Mexico.
That's the long and short of it, but as someone who's been everywhere from Mexico City to Oaxaca to La Paz, it definitely varies on region, who's making it, what's on hand, etc. Here in Canada and in the U.S. you'll occasionally see more cocktail-y takes on them, incorporating tequila or mezcal.
So, at home I'll usually grab a big glass, rim it with fresh lime, and then Tajin (or celery salt, or Montreal steak spice, or, or, or...), then pour in a good glug of Clamato juice, and hearty splashes each of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. I'll squeeze in the rest of the lime, stir it good, then load the glass with ice. Then, it's just finishing topping things up with the beer. For me it's somewhere between 1/3 Clamato and sauces to 2/3 beer, and basically 50/50. Honestly, since many widely-available Mexican beers are so clean and refreshing, these don't taste that different to the real thing.
Ratios above are all to your personal taste, and there are a zillion different ingredients and ways of putting 'em together.
Just Google michelada, but more importantly - never settle for plain, fizzy cereal water again.
If you're into complex flavours incorporating plenty of both aromatic and bitter components, I'm SO digging these Casamara Club sodas. They should be a definite hit with fans of amaros everywhere from Campari to Fernets.
I love that they're not sweet, either. The 'Alta' is a fizzy take on a Negroni, composed of sparkling water, lemon juice, cane sugar, and extracts of Italian chinotto, juniper berry, orris Root, mandarin orange, allspice, clove, anise, and Mediterranean sea salt.
My other fave is the 'Capo' AKA 'Como' - more of an Aperol Spritz kinda thing. This one's a little juicier: sparkling water, lemon juice, orange blossom honey, plus extracts of Mandarin orange, chamomile, peppermint, licorice root, grapefruit, juniper berry, clove, cardamom, and Mediterranean sea salt.
Here in Vancouver you can nab 'em at Drive Canteen.
Decent reds in the alcohol-free category can be tough to find, but I was pretty impressed in this Catalunya bottling of Syrah from Spain's famous Torres family.
I'd definitely recommend it with a hint of a chill; it's more likely to retain it's lightly tannic, peppery structure that holds together gobs of blackberries, blueberries and mulberries.
It'll wash down barbecued ribs, hamburgers well, and would act as a good purple compote or jam with big, stinky cheeses and a charcuterie board.
I picked it up here in Vancouver at Legacy Liquor Store.