You may have reached the middle of “Sober October” (in which case I salute you), or you may be teetotal, or avoiding/cutting down on booze. If so, you deserve to relax with a chilled glass of fizz. Wait. That’s not a contradiction, nor a desire to push you off the wagon, because I’ve discovered decent no-alcohol sparkling wines.
Admittedly, they don’t have the complexity of fine champagne or English sparkling, say, in which the alcohol and long yeast ageing add layers of flavour and texture, but they do taste lively, crisp and appealing.
I have recommended Belle & Co’s two wines (white and rosé) before, when they were called The Bees Knees. The new title is better, and I especially liked the rosé on a recent retaste.
These German fizzes are created with sparkling water, grape juice and a little green tea to add body. After fermentation the alcohol is evaporated off using vacuum distillation at a low temperature, so some of the aromas and more delicate flavours are preserved.
The no-alcohol option from Italian producer La Gioiosa is, quite simply, the carbonated juice of glera grapes (the prosecco variety). But it’s clean, refreshing and not too sweet.
Finally I’ve listed the new Rosé Sparkling Tea from Fortnum & Mason, a worthy follow-up to its successful white version that launched a year or two ago. It’s not a wine at all, of course.
But all three booze-free bubblies come in a smartly labelled, sparkling wine bottle with the classic fat cork and wire cage over it.
In opening them, you get a sense of occasion, and, booze-free or not, that counts for a lot.
Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé
Bright pink rosé with a good lively mousse and tangy flavours of white grape juice and strawberry ice cream, finishing fairly dry. Very keenly priced, especially on offer.
La Gioiosa et Amorosa Italian Sparkling Wine
Many cheap “normal” proseccos are simple, slightly sweet sparklers, so this no-alcohol version isn’t much different. It’s off-dry, tastes of green apples and green grapes, has a good crisp streak of acidity and a clean finish.
Fortnum & Mason Rosé Sparkling Tea
Denmark (0%, fortnumandmason.com, £16.95)
Classily labelled, and rather delicious with herbal tea and rosewater notes and a juicy strawberry Eton mess flavour, finishing medium-dry. Expensive, yes, but a lovely gift in lieu of alcohol.