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Zero To Hero: The 0% Wines Recommended By Some Of NZ’s Top Wine Judges

Five non-alcoholic wines have become ‘zero heroes’, earning ‘Recommended’ status from the judging panel at this year’s New World Wine Awards.

These Recommend non-alcoholic wines provide a go-to list for those looking for an alcohol-free alternative to standard vino for themselves or their guests and complement the show’s Top 50 winning wines under $25.

The Recommended wines are:

· Ara Zero Sauvignon Blanc

· McGuigan ZERO Rosé

· Edenvale Sparkling Cuvée

· Veuve du Vernay Zero

· Giesen 0% Merlot

Wine writer, judge and champion for low and no alcohol options Mary-Therese Blair joined the New World Wine Awards’ independent judging panel in assessing this year’s non-alcoholic entries and says the team were impressed by the increasing selection and quality.

She says the growing range and quality they observed was “great news” for anyone wanting to abstain, whether for a single occasion or as a long-term lifestyle choice.

“When it comes non-alcoholic wine, the gold standard is to find an example that has everything you would want in your favourite full-bodied wine, and I am super excited to say that these recommended drops meet that expectation,” she says.

“The Ara Zero Sauvignon Blanc, for example, has layers of citrus, passionfruit and tropical flavours on a crisp palate – it’s a quintessential Marlborough Sauvignon, just without the alcohol.”

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Meanwhile, McGuigan’s ZERO Rosé – in a colour reminiscent of this season’s trending negroni cocktail, boasts delicious strawberry and pear flavours with the slightest hint of spritz. “Just add friends, a platter and sunshine with this one,” suggests Mary.

The non-alcoholic Sparkling wines pleased the experts’ palates too, with the Australian-made Edenvale Sparkling Cuvée and French-crafted Veuve du Vernay Zero both making the cut.

“The Edenvale is a perfect pick for the festive season, and the Veuve du Vernay will also satisfy those looking for a vegan-friendly and organic option.”

Red wine lovers will also be relieved to know the team discovered a rare – up until now – red that shows the same delicious characteristics as its full-bodied counterparts.

“Full strength red wine is a lot to measure up to, but we noticed a real lift in the quality and drinkability of the non-alcoholic reds this year.

“The Giesen team have clearly put all they’ve learned from their pioneering production of zero alcohol wines in New Zealand to good use in their recommended 0% Merlot, creating a rounded, fruit forward wine that has the right mix of mouthfeel and texture.

“Pop this alongside a creamy tomato pasta and you aren’t missing out on anything.”

An independent panel of 17 wine experts tasted and evaluated a wide range of wines under 0.5% ABV wines at this year’s New World Wine Awards. These wines were assessed alongside regular strength wines of the same variety to see how they performed and were also judged in a dedicated non-alcoholic round to help identify the best examples.

Specific classes for non-alcoholic wines were added to the New World Wine Awards competition in 2021, in what is thought to be a first for a New Zealand wine show, in an effort to recognise continued innovation by winemakers and growing consumer demand for low and no alcohol beverages.

Low and no alcohol beers also shone through in the 2022 New World Beer & Cider Awards announced earlier this year, with two zero alcohol craft beers – Bach Brewing’s ALL DAY IPA and Garage Project’s TINY – making the Top 30. These beers proved popular with customers and were among the top five sellers during the awards campaign.

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