I just tasted a range of ‘de-alcoholised’ wines, ie drinks that are made like wines and then have the alcohol removed before being sold in wine bottles to be drunk in place of actual wine.
Tasting notes for the whites range from ‘furry peaches and cream with hint of dead mouse’ (a Californian Chardonnay) to ‘gone-off buttermilk’ (a ‘Premium’ German beauty). The rosé was like ‘milk teeth on steroids’ (White Zinfandel) and the red a straight-up ‘gross’ (Californian Merlot).
Thankfully I had some left-over cold plain pasta on hand. And mouthwash. And actual wine. I can still kind of taste them but I’m happy knowing I will NEVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN!
Apparently people buy this stuff and not just to serve it to people they have a pathological resentment against or something.
Once I got over the involuntary gagging reflexes, the one upside of tasting the above offenders was that they made the Torres Natureo Muscat (‘tangy Schloer with rose petals and peach’) and Torres Natureo Syrah (‘fruity and almost wine-like!’) taste amazingly well made in comparison. At least they kinda retained some of their original varietal flavours. And I didn’t have to leg it straight to the sink once I tasted them, just in case.
I’m not saying I’d drink these two Spaniards myself, cos personally I think life’s too short and wine is too tasty and I don’t mind drinking proper apple juice if I have to drive or something (or preferably my new favourite low-alcohol choice, Stonewell’s Tobairin, which is just 1.5% ABV and full of zingy craft cider attitude and goes great with curries, of which more anon).
But if you were on antibiotics maybe and really missing having the odd glass of wine with dinner, or if you were in early pregnancy and hoping no-one at the dinner party would notice the small print promising ‘less than 0.5% ABV’, or if you were obsessed with getting bikini-skinny and seduced by the promise of ‘fewer than half the calories of normal wine’, then I could see how you might actually not mind drinking those two ‘once-was-a-wine’ beverages.
So now you know.
Ah the charmed life of a wine writer. Tasting all the muck so you don’t have to.