'Lacking’ ‘nice’ 'pointless': your view on no-alcohol wine in France

Updated: mixed responses from readers, who believe industry still has a way to go

A number of readers praised alcohol free rosés for their taste
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We recently invited readers to share their opinions and experience on the rise of alcohol-free wine in France.

The market for alcohol-free alternatives has exploded in recent years, with estimates that up to 30% of adults in France stick to low or no-alcohol drinks.

Many also decided to take part in ‘Dry January’ in 2024, which sees people give up alcohol for the first month of the year.

Read more: French government petitioned to support Dry January

Alternatives for those taking part include alcohol-free wine, which currently rests at an interesting crossroads in France due to the cultural heritage of the drink.

Below, we share some of your comments.

Taste is ‘lacking’

Although many readers were open to the concept, the sticking point for most was the quality of alcohol-free wine, which they feel is not quite at the level of comparable tipples.

B.W. said her partner recently stopped drinking, turning to alcohol free wines at the dinner table.

“He has found a few non-alcoholic wines he likes,” she said “but some are disgusting.”

However, “Non-alcoholic bubbles [sparkling wine] is very nice and gives the celebratory effect,” she added.

A (different) B.W. added "I started drinking de-alcoholoised wine a year or two ago. I have to say, it’s not like wine but it is not at all like juice."

"The big difference with juice is that one can keep drinking the entire night and not feel a sugar high and just plain being nauseated from the juice... 60% fewer calories too, it's a winner for me." she added.

G.S. also praised alcohol free sparkling wine.

“I and many others in the Dry January community love a sparkling white called 'Nozeco',” which despite its punny name is made in France.

In addition to sparkling wines, A.G. said rosé wines were also of good quality, with some people he offered glasses too ‘not noticing’ they were drinking alcohol-free versions.

Some reds and whites however “don’t have the dryness and tang of conventional wine.”

“We regularly drink no-alcohol drinks,” he added, but he and his wife prefer beer.

“The [zero-alcohol] beers are mostly pretty good and there is a wide selection available… the selection of wines used to be poor until relatively recently,” he said, although the number of producers has increased “substantially” in recent years.

The quality of the wines “are very dependent on the manufacturer,” he added, with wines from other countries (particularly the US) being of better quality.

Other people including N.L. said other alcohol-free products in France are much better.

“No alcohol wines are a long way behind no alcohol beers, some of which are excellent,” he said.

To him, most alcohol-free wines are “too sweet, lacking in flavour and seem quite unlike wine…more a poor fruit juice,” and that “a lot of work needs to be done to make 0% wine more palatable.”

"I tried it this year," said D.C., "but the taste was so bad I switched to fruit juice."

Read more: ‘British drinking habits come as a shock now we live in France’

Supermarkets do not stock enough

Even for those who do enjoy these wines, a major difficulty is finding a good-quality bottle they can easily purchase.

“A number of supermarkets do not stock non-alcoholic wine,” said B.W., and that some of the ones that do increased their prices by around 20% at the beginning of the year.

When checking winemakers' own websites, G.S. said she “sees a full range of wines - and yet no one appears to stock them.”

“It would be good to find their stockists and why it’s so difficult to find French made alcohol-free wine even in France.”

She and others also commented on the difficulty in finding new varieties to try, with the alcohol-free wines “mixed up with other bottles” on supermarket shelves.

“You have got to do your research,” to find good alcohol free wine, said C.J. “and sadly [many people] will not … so it gets a bad rap.”

‘French find it objectionable’

A handful of readers wrote in to say they are fully against the idea, with some ‘yucks’ and ‘disgustings’ thrown into the mix. L.T. said the taste was akin "to flavoured water."

A.H. said he found alcohol-free wine “pointless… [people] might as well drink fruit juice.”

“I dare say many French people find the very idea objectionable, an insult to the long tradition of French wine production,” he added.

Your view

What is your opinion on alcohol-free wine in France? Have you tried any of them, have they become commonplace on your dinner table? Let us know via news@connexionfrance.com

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