Belfast Telegraph

Switch on the Christmas Leitz with an alcohol-free toast


By Paula Gracey

As we enter the festive party season, designated drivers and expectant mothers can still raise a glass to the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas is a time of celebration and we often reach for a special drink to toast the festivities. But for too long it’s been difficult to use the words special and non-alcoholic in the same sentence… now all that is changing with a surge in the sale of non-alcoholic drinks. For example, in the past year ‘no and low’ beer sales in supermarkets have grown by almost 50%. Wine makers have traditionally been reluctant to get involved in the low and non-alcoholic movement, but this trend is also changing – especially at the premium end.

There have been a number of drivers for the growth in the ‘no and low’ sector including a shift away from excessive drinking, charity campaigns and wellness-minded millennials but dramatic improvements in the quality of the non-alcoholic offering has also been a major reason.

There are now many winemakers catering for customers who want a non-alcoholic alternative which also delivers on the complexities and subtle nuances found in great wines.

One of those winemakers is Johannes Leitz from the Rheingau region of Germany, whose selection is now available from JN Wine in Crossgar. Johannes took over the winery in 1985 with the intention of producing wines in an elegant style and of the highest quality - and this includes his alcohol-free range.

Experts don’t believe non-alcoholic wines will ever be able to truly compete with the ‘real thing’ but it is important to note that competition is not the main goal, it is about providing an alternative. Removing alcohol from wines can leave an acidic taste therefore more work needs to be done in the winery to counteract this.

For now, here’s what you can expect from the leading Leitz.

Leitz Riesling Eins Zwei Zero - £9

Not just a clever name – a brilliantly conceived wine by Leitz who are based in the Rheingau which is one of the warmer regions of Germany and thereby better suited to the dry styles of the wonderful Riesling grape

This is full of fresh flavour and hints of citrus and yellow stone fruits. It’s well suited to a range of dishes including seafood and fish, as well as being an excellent party wine or apéritif. It has the added bonus of being only 29 calories for a 125 ml glass

Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Rosé - £9

This one offers an original character that is clean and fresh with notes of pale strawberries, raspberry and citrus; slight hints of fresh grapefruit and an underlying mineral base. The finish is dry and relatively long. Of course, an alcohol-free wine never will give the same depth, structure and weight as a wine with alcohol, but this is extremely close to it and it is simply an alcohol-free wine tasting wine. Impressive.

Recommended with fresh salads or different fruits, it has only 29 calories per 125 ml glass

Leitz Riesling Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling - £13.50

This fizz from the Riesling grape has only 30 calories per 125 ml glass. It is clean and fresh with notes of lime and citrus; surprisingly rhubarb and a little hint of red apples on an underlying mineral base. The finish is dry and relatively long.

Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Rosé Sparkling, - £13.50

This non-alcoholic sparkling rosé is 100% pinot noir. The grapes macerate for six hours prior to pressing. The CO2 really balances out the residual sugar, making it appear drier than it is. Because of that, it’s even more wine-like! This refreshing sparkler exudes cool, red fruits and lean minerality ..and the added benefit of only 30 calories per 125 ml glass.

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