germany, no alcohol, nolo -

nolo wines

Dry January is a frustrating trend. It hits the wine industry hard, and it doesn't really meet health concerns. Drinking lots of alcohol in December, stopping for a month, and then beginning again in February isn't the best model of abstinence. So I'm writing this post about low alcohol wines in February, because they can be drunk any time of the year.

The term "Nolo" refers to wines that have no or low alcohol. I've always been a bit skeptical because most of those I've tried have been at best tasteless and at worst plain terrible. But one of the serious challenges the wine industry has to confront is that alcohol is a social and health concern, and wine of course has a level of alcohol usually between 12 and 15%.

Alcohol is produced during fermentation and is an integral part of the structure, complexity, and quality of a wine. Too high and the wine can be blowsy, too low it can be insipid. To successfully produce a Nolo wine, it's the latter that's proven a major difficulty.

Many Nolo wines are produced by making a wine and then removing the alcohol through reverse osmosis. The problem is that flavors are removed too, and the wines lack any character. But producers continue to experiment, as consumers—especially younger ones—are calorie and socially aware.

Leitz is a German producer which has been making Nolo wines since 1907, even though the category is a recent trend. The wines are gently and slowly distilled at low pressure at 30°C, which results in wines that actually taste and feel like wine even though there is almost no alcohol.

I recently tried some of the wines, and they are by far the best Nolo wines I have tasted. There's Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, and they are recognizably characteristic of those varieties. The wine that stood out was the sparkling Blanc de Blancs. There's some sweetness to the wine, which gives the wine body and weight in place of the alcohol and which is balanced by the naturally high acid of any German wine. My conclusion is that the best Nolo wines are sparkling because the bubbles provide some complexity and also because we're used to no-alcohol sparkling drinks.

I'm getting this wine into the club, so let me know if you want any. This is a wine that can be drunk at breakfast, or at a party if you're driving home, or just don't want to drink an alcoholic beverage but still enjoy the sensation of tasting wine. I haven't previously introduced Nolo wines into the club because I hadn't tasted any that are nearly good enough—but this fits perfectly.