Wine Life: Why I draw the line at alcohol-free wine

Greenskin Wine's picnic-friendly wine pouches.
Greenskin Wine's picnic-friendly wine pouches. Photo: Supplied

Bottle-less wine

New brand Greenskin Wine offers good-quality, good-value red, white and pink wine from WA in strong, lightweight 750ml pouches that are fully recyclable through Greenskin's own mail-back program.

Perfect for picnics, festivals and messing around in boats, the wines cost between $135 for six pouches of the sauvignon blanc semillon (equivalent to $22.50 a bottle) and $199.20 for six of the cabernet merlot. You can also get a mixed pack of all six wines for $186.50. greenskinwine.com

Wine rant

You've probably noticed more and more "alcohol-free" wines appearing in the aisles and fridges of your local bottle-o (especially at this time of year when booze shops are promoting no-lo beers, spirit-free spirits and alc-alternatives to the growing number of us swearing off the grog for Dry July).

Illustration: Simon Letch.
Illustration: Simon Letch. 

Personally, I'm yet to find a wine with all or most of the alcohol stripped out of it that I would actually want to drink. Not because I'm against the idea of booze-less booze, per se. Far from it: there are some excellent non-alcoholic beers like Heaps Normal, spirits like Lyre's, and new-wave alternatives like NON, that I happily choose to drink.

But wine's different. Alcohol isn't just there in your favourite chardonnay or shiraz to give you a buzz. It also plays a crucial role in giving the wine body and presence and satisfaction on the tongue.

And whereas other lo- and no-alc drinks can make up for the lack by tweaking other components – hops, spice, sugar, botanicals – wine is, or should be, just grape juice. Take the alcohol in wine away completely, and I'm just left with the taste of something missing.

Wine for a cause

When it came time to pick the pinot noir grapes at his Eldridge Estate vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula last year, winemaker David Lloyd was otherwise engaged – in the Peter MacCallum hospital, being treated for aggressive Burkitt lymphoma. So his mates stepped in, harvested the grapes, and made the wine following his instructions.

Now, 18 months later, Lloyd is selling that wine – a deliciously wild-fruited pinot called 2020 Burkitt Blend – to give back to the team who saved his life.

He's donating $20 from the sale of each bottle (it comes in a six-pack for $420) to Peter Mac. eldridge-estate.com.au

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New wine, old style

Major sparkling wine producer Chandon has jumped on the "pet-nat" bandwagon with the release of the 2018 Chandon Ancestrale Rosé ($42).

Ancestrale is another name for the age-old but uber-trendy petillant naturel, or naturally sparkling style of wine, which gets its fizz from fermentation finishing in the bottle.

Unlike most pet-nats, which are super-cloudy and released within weeks of vintage, Chandon's version has been matured on its yeast lees before being disgorged, so it's more refined and delicate, but still has a deliciously rustic edge and just a touch of haze. chandon.com.au

Wish list

Who Yangarra

What 2018 Ironheart Shiraz

Why Because this is McLaren Vale shiraz at its very best: dark, rich and powerful yet also beautifully balanced.

When To 2038 and beyond.

How much $120

Where yangarra.com

Max Allen is an award-winning journalist and author, who has written about wine and drinks for close to 30 years.