Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I enjoy the taste of wine, but have given up drinking alcohol. Why don’t restaurants keep a few bottles of non-alcoholic wine available?
—Cris, Stamford, Conn.
If an item on a restaurant menu or wine list isn’t selling, it’s probably not going to last long. While I have seen non-alcoholic wine and non-alcoholic beer sold in some restaurants, I think the market is pretty small, and that’s why it isn’t widespread.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for it, and if you frequent a restaurant often enough, maybe you’ll give them a reason to keep some around. I also think that if a restaurant has a corkage policy, they should also apply that to non-alcoholic wine, but I would certainly talk to a manager beforehand to make certain.
Non-, low-, and de-alcoholized wines are made by making “normal” wine and then removing the alcohol afterwards. But if you like the taste of wine and need to avoid the alcohol, there are other alternatives that might appeal to you. The first is high-end grape juice made from wine grapes. I only know of two wineries that make it, Navarro in California and Oakencroft Farm in Virginia. These are really special beverages, with plenty of complexity and aromatics, though they can be quite sweet. The second is Vignette, a non-alcoholic soda made with wine-grape juice, which is a less sweet, fizzy, more refreshing take on non-alcoholic wine.
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