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Wine Review: Alcohol-free wines offer change from the norm

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One cannot deny facts and the fact is that wine sales have been increasing at a steady rate every year. That indicates wine has become a very popular dinnertime beverage, replacing the sugary drinks of the past that have been proven to be detrimental to your health.

The reason for the change is that wine accompanies, mingles with and enhances the food while sweet beverages only add calories. There is a problem, however, in that the alcohol in wine has been considered the problem child of the human race for centuries and its misuse has even been quoted in the Bible.

I recently had an opportunity to sample some alcohol-free wines from Trinchero Family Estates, the same people that introduced the blush zinfandel wine that swept the country several years ago. The Fre wines are produced by fermentation in the classical manner. They then are dealcoholized by a process called spinning cone – the same process that is used to dealcoholize perfume without losing any of its characteristics except for the alcohol. What works for perfume also works for wine.

Fre Alcohol-Removed Cabernet Sauvignon ($9)
No wine in this world has been debated over, argued over and criticized more than the cabernet sauvignon, so that is the wine I will start with. Forgive me, but I return to a common saying: If it looks like a cabernet sauvignon, if it smells like a cabernet sauvignon, if it tastes like a cabernet sauvignon, it’s a cabernet sauvignon. The Fre cabernet sauvignon passes all of those tests. Everything that I look for in a cabernet sauvignon was right there in this wine, except for the alcohol.

Fre Alcohol-Removed Chardonnay ($9)
I did not believe that a wine as delicate as a chardonnay could retain all of its flavors and aromas after the dealcoholizing, but retain them it did and this wine shows them off in style. The wine features tropical fruit in both the aroma and flavor with a hint of vanilla in the background. My comment on this wine is that it offers quality far beyond its affordable price might indicate and in no way suffers from its lack of alcohol.

Fre Alcohol-Removed Merlot ($9)
After a brief stardom, merlot wines have fallen from favor because of the inferior versions that flooded the market about 10 years ago. This wine, alcohol or not, may just resurrect the variety. The aroma features cherry, blueberry, mint and vanilla. The flavor stresses the same elements that are in the aroma, with hints of pomegranate, chocolate and cola in the background. These flavors reprise themselves on the aftertaste, which is long and delicate. This wine should delight the palates of even the most critical wine lover.

Fre Alcohol-Removed Rose ($9)
I believe that French rose producers have a competitor here and a dealcoholized one at that. The removal of the alcohol has in no way deflated the flavors and aromas that a rose wine is famous for. The aroma is a feast of ripe summer fruits and berries which continues to the finish where it remains obvious and in no way seems to suffer from the lack of alcohol.

Fre Alcohol-Removed Sauvignon Blanc ($9)
I will admit that sauvignon blanc is not one of my favorite varieties, but this offering from Trinchero’s Fre line of wines may just change that. Whether it is the lack of alcohol in this wine, the grapes used or fairy dust, this wine captured me. Sauvignon blanc grapes can produce wines in the California style, with a melon and citrus flavor, as well as wines in the classical European style, which stresses a herbaceous (grassy) flavor. This wine lives in both worlds. It has the classical grassy component, but that is held in check so that the full fruit California style can shine through. This effect allows the wine to be served with a wider spectrum of foods than its alcoholic European and California cousins.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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