Before we get into these fun non-alcoholic sparkling wines, there’s one thing you should know about me, and that’s the fact that I am an absolutely rabid Welch’s sparkling grape juice fan. That elevated soda is the flavor of my childhood. While I was sometimes offered a few sips of wine at dinner as a kid, they meant nothing to me, nothing, when I knew a heavy pour of Welch’s Sparkling was on the way. In college, my sophisticated palate bypassed its Sutter Home phase and instead opted for sparkling grape juice and vodka.
All that’s to say that I am no stranger to the world of sparkling grape juice, which, until recently, is what I assumed non-alcoholic wine was. Though I love wine, I’ve never been a huge drinker, which means that it’s generally easy for me to cut alcohol out of my routine. But lately, I’ve been socializing more on weeknights, and sometimes, I’d prefer to skip the alcohol so I can actually be productive the next day. The problem is, it feels like such a habit to have a drink in hand that it can feel strange to have friends over drinking or go out to a bar and sit there sipping my sparkling water.
So, when Prima Pavé sent me their three sparkling wines to try, I was excited to start sipping, and I’ve been humbled. These selections, while distinguishable from alcoholic wine, are definitely more complex than your standard grape juice. They all contain 0% alcohol, and they contain significantly fewer calories than a standard glass of wine. Though I will never give up my love of Welch’s, these non-alcoholic options may be a better option if you’re trying to celebrate with other adults.
My least favorite of the bunch, the Rose Dolce, is, as the name suggests, quite sweet. I think most people these days would prefer a wine that’s on the drier side, but it makes sense that Prima Pavé would attempt to reach the widest possible customer base, and some prefer a sweeter bubbly. The first thing I noticed about this wine is the fact that it has a more refined bead than the other two I tried from this brand.
It’s lovely and light on the nose, with strong aromas of strawberry and rose, though it has a cleaner edge to it than you would expect from an alcoholic wine. On the palate, red berries take main stage. While this one is far too sweet for my taste, the sweetness is mostly balanced by a pleasant acidity. If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic wine to pair with a fresh summertime dessert and you don’t mind some sweetness, you’re probably going to enjoy the Rose Dolce.
For rose lovers who aren’t keen on the super-sweet sparklers, the Rose Brut may be more up your alley. This one is much drier but still has a refreshing acidity to it. The aromas are somewhat floral with notes of violet along with raspberry and peach. It also had an almost petrol-like quality to it, which I didn’t expect from a non-alcoholic wine—I’m still relearning my biases. Taking a sip, I wasn’t surprised by the floral and red fruit notes, but I wasn’t expecting the touch of minerality. It may not be the most sophisticated rose I’ve ever tried, but a level of complexity is undeniable, which is perhaps explained by the blend of four grapes: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer.
I had to save the best for last. Out of all of these wines, the Blanc de Blancs was by far my favorite. It’s juicy, it’s refreshing and it’s the one that tastes the most like alcoholic wine to my palate. The petrol aromas are strong here too, but melon, kiwi, green apple and pear stand out as well. I will say that the bead is rather coarse on this one, so you don’t get the creaminess you may be craving in a sparkling wine. But considering that this wine is so refreshing, it’s something I can do without.
This would pair well with seafood or a light pasta dish, though it has enough versatility to go with pretty much anything that isn’t too intensely flavored. Though this wine probably won’t upend my drinking habits completely, it’s given me a new perspective on the sober-curious lifestyle. For those who are looking for an alternative way to celebrate or who just want to avoid a champagne hangover on occasion, an NA sparkler like this one is a solid option.
Samantha Maxwell is a food and wine writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter.