Alcohol-free wine gets interesting

Alcohol-free wine gets interesting

I never thought I would see the day when I dedicate this column to an alcohol-free wine, but over Christmas I was a sent a bottle of this Wild Idol pink bubbles by the distributor (Prime Wine) to try.

I decided to leave this until January 1, the first day of what is my first ever “dry January”.

I popped the cork on New Year’s Day and the first thing I have to say about this “wine” is that it does feel very special.

The box, not pictured here, befits something very luxurious and I suspect costs as much to make or probably more than the bottle and its contents. This, however, adds to the feeling of occasion, especially if being offered as a gift.

The price is, in fact, very close to that of a mainstream champagne. It was on sale at Apolónia over Christmas and, so I am told, it sold out in the Almancil store. But I can confirm that, at the time of writing, there were still some bottles at Apolónia Lagoa, or it can be purchased direct from Prime Wine.

The first thing that struck me after pouring it was a decent mousse in the glass settling down to a nice, fine and persistent bubble. This, of course, has been achieved by carbonisation as opposed to the natural sparkling method of champagne and other real sparkling wines, and it is clear to see that a great deal of care and skill has been employed to get this right.

Then, on the nose, there are notes of strawberries and peaches coming to the front and some unexpected winey aromas which, on delving onto the ingredients used to make it, turn out to be the result of adding a touch of wine vinegar to the juice, which also balances out the natural sweetness of the unfermented grapes.

In the mouth, there is a touch of residual sweetness, but the bubbles ensure an overall dry sensation. Unlike any other alcohol-free wine I have ever tried, this is a very pleasant drink to be savoured in the glass and well suited to enjoy with food. In fact, I hear that it is soon to be added to the wine list of at least one of the Algarve’s Michelin-starred restaurants and, in the UK, it can be found at Harrods and Selfridges as well as at many leading restaurants and hotels including the likes of The Ivy and The Dorchester.

The “wine” is made by a UK winery and by British winemakers but actually produced in Germany. There is also a white version of Wild Idol which, I am told, is slightly sweeter than the rosé. As for the price, well, at around the €30 mark, I cannot say that the drinking pleasure matches that of a similarly priced sparkling wine, but that is not the point.

If you do not wish to or cannot drink alcohol, this is as close as you can get to enjoying a glass of champagne. And assuming I myself succeed in completing my dry January, I will happily pay the price of a bottle to toast my abstinence at the end of the month. Happy New Year to all!

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