From zero to hero with great wine

Why on Earth would you want to drink a wine without any alcohol?

By An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 26th February 2022, 7:00 am

For many years, I have struggled with the question, and I have never really found the answer.

It’s always struck me as being like going to a brothel for a hug, or a peak on the cheek.

But what do I know? As my darling wife, the wise and enigmatic Madame G., pointed out you could simply turn the question round.

An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug

Do you only drink wine for the alcoholic effect?

If that was the case, dear tipplers, we’d all be on meths.

It may be that for some of us we’d like our glass of wine to be like a comma, rather than a full stop.

We want the sensation of breaking up the day with a drop of vino but also to dodge its deadening effects of the stomach turning feeling in the morning and lack of memory.

Some of us still have work to do. Or we could be driving.

Perhaps we’re in recovery.

Or we simply don’t fancy a hangover with a long list of chores to do. Plus, it’s less calorific, and we might be trying to cut down our calorie intake.

Whatever the reason, the low alcohol and no alcohol market is rapidly growing in Northern Ireland.

And, if you can’t beat them, well you might as well join in.

Today’s first recommendation is the super-smooth, intensely fruity and flavoursome McGuigan Zero Shiraz (widely available in independent off-licences and wine shops,typically £4-£6).

Plenty of plum and black cherry flavours on a complex palate and a tangy finish.

And a very good impression of an actual decent Aussie Shiraz without either the benefits or the drawbacks of any booze content.

One to enjoy with bangers and mash on a school night.

I’ve just remembered that when I’m trying to pace myself whilst tippling, I sometimes drink a glass of water in between glasses of wine.

There’s another good use for your alcohol-free vino.

Upon which note, today’s actual, real Wine of the Week is the lean, delightfully dry, zesty and mineral-rich Society’s Exhibition Santorini Assyrtiko (£13.95, The Wine Society, telephone 01438-741177 or visit

This highly distinctive Greek white (13.5% alcohol so, fear not, you’ll certainly feel it) is full of lime and peach flavours on its expressive palate before a satisfyingly savoury finish with notes of camomile, quartz and a strikingly firm and most pleasing acidity.

Lovers of red, I will never forget you.

How could I when I am you?

Today’s final selection is the rustic, robust and well-rounded 2017 El Duque de Miralta Rioja Crianza (£10, M&S).

This peppery, jammy Spanish red has a delicately spiced, juicy palate with pronounced black cherry, bramble and blackberry flavours before a lengthy finish which, thanks to having been aged in oak barrels, delivers an abundance of generous cinnamon, spice and vanilla notes.

One for red meat including beef or lamb stew on a dark, cold and most likely stormy evening.

So there you have it - red wine, white wine, wine with alcohol and wine without alcohol...the choice is yours and there’s plenty to get tore into. Just go easy on the auld Zero Shiraz if you’ve an early start on Monday morning and a busy day ahead.

Till next week, tipplers, sante and enjoy!

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