Phew, how ya feelin’? A little indulgent? A tad partied out? If you might benefit from a moment of temperance this week, we’ve got a new line of beautiful non-alcoholic wines that blow the old standards out of the water.
Why is the non-alcoholic wine scene so lame in the first place? Well, science.
Turns out sugars left to meet up with the air’s ambient yeasts just can’t wait to turn into alcohol, which is actually central to how our winemaking traditions have stretched so far back into history — it’s not that hard to make basic wine. But alcohol is also the vessel for many of the sensations we love about wine. The beverage equivalent of fat, alcohol spotlights flavor like butter might in our favorite foods, as well as supporting body, complexity, and even more ethereal sensations in the glass. Remove alcohol from wine and you get…grape juice, exactly what you started with. This is why most NA wines taste very much like what you had back at the kids’ table. Or, sometimes, worse.
Johannes Leitz, well-known and awarded for his work to elevate the post-war quality of Germany’s Rheinhessen wines, is also interested in changing the NA wine standard of quality worldwide. Clandestinely utilizing technology also developed in the Rhienhessen, Johannes has been able to revamp production capabilities for high-quality NA wines, with science! At its most basic, this technology allows for alcohol to be evaporated from the juice at a much lower temperature — higher temperatures being the key snag in preserving delicate aromas and flavors that we associate with wine’s essential character. The vacuum distillation used at Lietz gets us the closest we’ve ever been to high-quality wine without the buzz.
It all starts with Riesling in Deutschland, and that’s what Leitz is best at. In the NA sphere, aromatic varieties like Riesling benefit especially from the gentler vacuum distillation process, preserving the floral, mineral, and bright citrus notes quintessential to Rheinhessen Riesling. This bubbly has classic slate and white flower notes on the nose, with zippy lime and lemon candy flavors finishing vibrantly on a luscious bubble.
Made from real-deal Rheinhessen Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, the ripe strawberry, orange, and yellow cherry notes in this rosé sparkler far surpass the cotton-candy-watermelon vibes that seem to creep into most over-sweet NA rosés. With rhubarb and rosy potpourri on the alluring nose, Leitz Sparkling Rosé is a satisfying substitute for cheersable pink drink.
A real testament to vacuum distillation technology, the level of complexity achieved in Leitz NA Pinot Noir is impressive and very promising. Though the body is light and juicy, all the important notes we’re looking for are there — cherry, black raspberry, crunchy cranberry, and even a whiff of gravelly earth. This is our favorite NA red to date.
-Aimee Hutchinson | Wine Manager Top Ten Liquors