My go-to AF alternatives

My favourite AF wines

I’ve tried 100s of AF alternatives.  Whilst choice is still limited here are the ones that I re-order time and again.

The Sparklings

There’s no doubt that AF sparkling wines are the closest in both taste, mouthfeel and experience to the real thing. There’s nothing quite like popping a cork, and knowing it’s not going to make you stupid, or taste like fizzy ribena.

Noughty from Thomson and Scott

My number one go-to for celebrations is no secret.  Noughty sets the standard. I’ve tested It out on everyone I know, drinkers & non-drinkers alike and no one has ever turned down a second, or third glass.  They have nailed the aroma, taste and feel of an excellent dry, crisp, French Champagne, probably because the founder studied her craft right there in the Champagne region in France.

The price point is very reasonable at $24.95, it’s certified organic, vegan, halal and only has 2.9g sugar per 100ml. Really there’s no reason not to drink it in my opinion unless of course it’s sold out!

Richard Juhlin Blanc de Blanc Sparkling White

This was my very first AF sparkling discovery. The one that started my journey of discovery into the AF world. It’s another great option for the ‘discerning connoisseur’. A top shelf sparkling from renowned Champagne expert Richard Juhlin. It’s a classic French style sparkles, crisp and dry and has excellent body, flavours and aromas that could fool anyone into thinking it’s the real thing.

It sells for $29.95.

Edenvale Sparkling Cuvee Spanish

I love the Edenvale Spanish Expedition series and this sparkling is a well-priced, fabulous AF version of a Spanish Cuvee. It’s a go-to for me as a reasonably priced entertaining option ( I save the more exy stuff for special occasions) and I’m also prone to using it as a mixer with Lyres Italian Orange for an Amalfi Spritz.

It’s only got 3.8g sugar too, added bonus.

The Whites

I used to love my white wine and when I first quit the options for an alternative were far and few between. Thankfully things are moving along nicely and here are the two that are regularly chilling in my bar fridge.

Giesen Zero

When I discovered this it was early-ish in the piece and I’d been yet to find a decent crisp, dry, Sav that didn’t taste like watery apple juice.

Whilst it may not quite appease the traditional sav drinker, it is for me as a non-drinker, the best alternative. Why? There is zero sweetness, it’s as dry as I can find, it’s zingy and crisp and it goes beautifully with all the things a Sav should pair with.

A bottle of this and a bucket of prawns is my idea of heaven.

It’s 0.5% ABV and only 16 calories per 125mls. Also not a bad price at $16.95.

Ara Zero – Marlborough Sav Blanc

Another great NZ Sav that is a close second for me to the Giesen. It’s the tiniest bit sweeter, but not too sweet, and it’s got a slightly fuller body. I’d recommend for anyone who likes a slightly fruitier sav with a mellower finish.

Only 16 calories per 125ml serving and sells for around $16.95

The Reds

If you’ve ever tried an AF red it’s likely you’ve been disappointed. They are, without doubt, the most challenging to emulate and added sugar to create flavour and mouth-feel does not a good red make. It’s only been very recently that I’ve discovered a couple that I can enjoy, but I do recommend chilling slightly before you drink.

Edenvale Temparillo Cabernet Sauvignon

It had me at the first taste. I love my reds spicy and full-bodied and this one is one of the best I’ve found so far in the red category, which, by the way, is fraught with really really bad beverages. Red is the hardest one to get right, so if you’re a lover of red wine, buyer beware. Taste bud re-training will be required.

But for me, this one is good. No hints of ribena or red grape juice, and pure joy to pour, smell and taste. It’s bold, fruity, not sweet and has a delightful full, spicy finish. 

Tempranillo grapes from Spain ( responsible for some of the best Spanish wines) with Cab Sav addition to enhance the flavours and add structure.

Ecstatic to finally find an AF red my husband and I can 100% agree on (no alcohol-fuelled debates in this family!).

Plus, only 2.8g sugar proves you don’t need to add in a ton of the stuff to make a decent tasting AF red. 

Price around $15.95

Plus and Minus Shiraz

The Plus and Minus range is relatively new but are quickly gaining popularity. This is a smooth, silky red, that tastes quite like a classic Aussie shiraz. I enjoy it because it gives me the mouthfeel of a medium-bodied wine, which is tricky, as the reds are often watery, which is something a red definitately shouldn’t be.

The Plus and Minus Pinot is also good, a little lighter & more subtle than the Shiraz so one to try if you like a Pinot.

4.2 grams sugar and 38 cals per 100mls and priced at a decent $14.95

As an ex-wine drinker these are my go-to’s. I’ll be adding more recommendations in the spirits, beers and mixers categories soon.

End Note

On a personal note: After I quit drinking, I waited few months before trying anything that had any alcohol in it. I wanted to forget the taste of the real thing, so I could really enjoy the experience of new flavours without comparing too much.

For those of you who are swaping it out once in a while, or for a dry period of time, set your expectations. Reality is it won’t taste or feel the same as drinking alcohol. But it can work to replace the ritual. For me it’s a healthier ritual, I feel like I’m having a treat or reward, but without the downsides.

AF alternatives are also great for social situations if you feel more comfortable with a wine glass over a tumbler full of soda. Who knows, you might find you like one or two alternatives and they can become integral in helping you cut back or possibly even quit if that’s your goal.

IMPORTANT

PLEASE NOTE: Whilst some are comfortable and safe to drink ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives, they may not always be suitable. Some options do emulate the alcoholic versions & may give sensory cues that you may find triggering if you are battling alcohol dependency. 

If this is the case, fear not! There are some amazing completely alcohol-free adult options that do not try to ‘be like’ anything else. You can explore what’s available via the link below in Tonics and Sodas.

You can also buy all the drinks listed above here!

Sarah Connelly

Sarah Connelly

Sarah is the Founder of Tapped In and has been writing and blogging about alcohol-free alternatives and lifestyle since October 2019. She's no pro, but she does her best.

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