Artists drink. It’s just what we do. However, awhile back I made the decision to take a hiatus from alcohol. Because I really, really like wine, I decided to give some of the non-alcoholic varieties a shot so I wouldn't have to completely suffer.
So far I've tried five different kinds and, because I'm awesome and I love you, I'm saving you the time and money by providing a thorough review of my fake wine experience.
The first wine I tried was the Ariel brand Chardonnay. I found this at the local Twin Liquors and I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. With only 45 calories per 8 ounce serving, I was pretty sure this was going to be a winner. Plus Ariel described it as having a "distinctive combination of buttery apple and butterscotch combined with a toasty French oak bouquet". YUMMY!
Upon my initial swallow of this wine, however, none of these descriptions came to mind. Instead, it tasted more like the bitter tears of starving babies with the nutty finish of death and despair.
To be more specific, and literally speaking, if I had poured a glass of chardonnay one month ago, left it out on the patio table in the rain, then allowed the sun to beat down on it to finish it off, the Ariel Chardonnay would be the result of that.
Ariel says to try it with spaghetti carbonara, mango mahi-mahi, sautéed scallops, or crispy duck. If I were to pair it with anything, it would be a life ending handful of Xanax.
ARIEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON
After the Chardonnay experience, I was very hesitant to try the next wine I picked out. I wept silently as I poured the glass of Ariel brand Cabernet Sauvignon.
After wiping the tears from my eyes, I was able to make out that this was an "oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignon (with) aromas of black currants, cherry, blueberries and chocolate, with soft tannins and a dry finish". At 52 calories per 8 ounce serving, you're still looking at far fewer calories than regular wine, and if you throw up afterward it's zero! It's always important to look on the bright side of things.
My first taste of this wine was far more pleasant than dying babies. In fact, it was actually very nice and didn't necessarily taste like it was non-alcoholic. When I had my friends try it, they didn't seem to notice that anything was missing either. I liked it. I drank the shit out of that stuff, and I would do it again.
Ariel recommends trying this with manchego, carne asada, Texas chili, or wood-fired pizza. For this wine, I would choose to live another day.
I decided to stop at the grocery store and see if they carried the Ariel brand wine. They didn't, but they did have the Fre brand Merlot. After a decent Cabernet Sauvignon experience, I found myself looking forward to my first non-alcoholic Merlot and another company's take on alcohol removed wine.
This wine weighed in a little heavier at 70 calories per 8 ounce glass, but I wasn't too worried about that. After all, "with its plush, luxurious taste, and gorgeous garnet color, (it) delivers plenty of style and grace. With seductive black plum aromas and soft cherry and spice flavors, (it's) velvety smooth, with a full, rich finish—a classic beauty". After reading that, I just wanted to make out with the damn thing. My friend interrupted the whole affair by tapping my shoulder, requesting that I quit french kissing the bottle and take a swig for God's sake.
When I did just that, I suddenly felt like a creepy pedophile. I hadn't been making out with seductive and luxurious Merlot at all! I'd been making out with children's grape juice! I called her son over to take a sip. With the discriminating palate of an eleven year old, he described the wine as "unsweet grape juice, tastes like dooky". Dooky, indeed. Unsweet dooky.
Fre recommends pairing this wine with herb-crusted lamb chops, hearty stews, juicy hamburgers, pizza and movie night. I paired mine with the dumpster.
I do not recommend this Merlot, for it is yucky.
FRE RED BLEND
Because stopping at the grocery store is on my way home and the liquor store isn't, I decided to give the Fre brand another shot with its Red Blend. If I could give Ariel another try after that near death experience of mine, I could certainly do the same for Fre. Sometimes second chances are good.
After having been burned with that fucking Merlot, it was hard to just put my heart out there and trust again. Like the Merlot, it too was 70 calories per 8 ounce glass. My friend gave me the pep talk, told me to quit acting like a sissy and drink the damn wine.
Fre claimed that this wine "offers a deep ruby color and ripe, black cherry scented aromas. Smooth and rich, it offers plenty of bright, grape, and cherry fruit with an intriguing smoky flavor. (It) ends with a long, fruity, lingering finish". I must admit, I was slightly fearful of that lingering finish if it were anything like some of the others.
I decided to just rip the band-aid and take a big swallow. To my delight, I didn't die, nor did I wish to. Instead, in this Red Blend I found yet another reason to live, right behind kittens and payday.
This wine made me want to move to a cabin in the woods, sit by the fire and tell charming stories of that time I found a non-alcoholic wine that didn't make me want to succumb to Tuberculosis.
It's lovely and I recommend it.
Last on my list is a little something I picked up from a different liquor store on New Year's Eve. The Fre Brut is non-alcoholic champagne type stuff, and is described as follows:
"From the cascades of tiny bubbles to the effervescent fizz in the glass, our alcohol-removed sparkling wine makes any occasion feel a little more special. A steadily ascending stream of bubbles rises in the glass, releasing a fragrant bouquet. Green apple and ripe pear aromas tickle your nose, while crisp flavors of apple and strawberry delight your palate. Our Brut is beautifully balanced with a pleasantly dry, refreshing finish."
I found this description to be somewhat misleading. In fact, I plan to submit my prose to Fre to replace this bullshit description. What it should say is this:
"The cascades of tiny bubbles are like a motherfucking awesome bomb went off in your mouth. The crisp flavors of badassery and I can't believe it's not wine will easily trick your friends into thinking they're actually boozing it up. This is a no shit winner and is the reason I never actually have to drink alcohol ever again."
I've gone through no fewer than ten bottles of this stuff. It's 90 fat-ass calories per 8 ounce glass make it totally no better than wine, but love is blind. Plus you feel all classy and shit, with all those bubbles. People think you're rich. Buy this now.
If there’s anything else you’d like me to helpfully review, feel free to let me know in the comments. Have a gorgeous day!