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21 Aug 2021

Alcoholic vs non-alcoholic sparkling rose: which tipple did our tasters prefer?

We pitted Freixenet Italian Sparkling Rose against its alcohol-free alternative in a blind taste test - find out which one our panel preferred
Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé and Fre

Whether you're toasting celebrations or having a night in with friends, there are few things more indulgent than popping open a bottle of bubbly. But if you're cutting back on booze, or you'd rather not deal with the hangover, the good news is, we've found a tasty alcohol-free alternative.

More than 100 rose fans sipped Freixenet's pink fizz in a blind taste test, and while the brand's Italian Sparkling Rose took the lead overall, 61% of the panel actually said they preferred the alcohol-free version.

Although it won't fool seasoned rose drinkers (only 16% of tasters thought the 0.0% drink contained alcohol), Freixenet's Alcohol Free Sparkling Rose is still a good choice if you're after something cheaper, lighter, and just as delicious as the alcoholic bubbly.

See below for the full results of our taste test, and tips on how to serve sparkling wine.

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Freixenet Italian Sparkling Rose (£12 for 75cl)

  • Overall score: 73%
  • Preferred by: 39%
Freixenet Italian Sparkling Rosé

It was a close-run contest, but in the end, Freixenet's alcoholic Sparkling Rose came out on top. Our panel thought it looked the part with its pleasing pale-peach colour, and it smelled inviting too.

Unfortunately, the flavour didn't blow our tasters away, with half rating it not sweet enough for their palate, and some commenting on the 'dry' aftertaste.

Its ample amount of fizz was a hit though, and most of the panel also liked the subtle hints of fruit.

Available from Asda, MorrisonsSainsbury's and Tesco.

Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rose (£5 for 75cl)

  • Overall score: 71%
  • Preferred by: 61%
Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rose

It's not just missing the alcohol - Freixenet has also forgone its distinctive textured bottle for its alcohol-free Spanish wine. Still, our panel liked the flavour just as much as the alcoholic version, and most even preferred the mouthfeel.

Its pink hue is much deeper than its rival, which put off a few of our tasters (42% said they found it too dark), and some felt the aroma was a little underwhelming.

Naturally, many of the panel also felt it was missing that classic alcohol taste, but 61% of them actually said this was the sparkling rose they preferred.

Available from Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco.

Is non-alcoholic wine really alcohol free?

Toast with sparkling rose

Not necessarily. The world of low-alcohol and no-alcohol wine can be confusing, so if you're avoiding alcohol it's worth brushing up on your labels.

For a wine to be called 'non-alcoholic' or 'de-alcoholised', it needs to have an ABV of no more than 0.5%. The residual alcohol is due to the way it's made - most low-alcohol and no-alcohol wines go through the same fermentation process as traditional wine. The alcohol is then filtered or distilled out of the drink, although a small amount may remain.

0.5% is unlikely to add to your daily units, but if you're avoiding alcohol completely, you'd be better off looking for an 'alcohol-free' wine. These, like the 0.0% Sparkling Rose we tried, can only contain a maximum of 0.05% alcohol.

Another option is to look for sparkling grape juice, such as Shloer's Pink Bubbly. It's designed to look and feel like a fizzy rose wine, but as the grapes don't go through fermentation it is totally alcohol free.

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Is non-alcoholic wine healthy?

Sparkling rose on an outdoor table

Once all the alcohol is stripped out of the de-alcoholised wine, it needs to be replaced with something that gives a similar mouthfeel, and that's usually where sugar steps in. Its addition to low-alcohol drinks is the reason for their sometimes sweeter taste.

Freixenet's 0.0% Rose contains 5.4g of sugar per 100ml, compared with around 1.5g per 100ml for the alcoholic version. This might sound a lot, but for context, Coca-Cola has nearly double the sugar (10.6g per 100ml), as does Tropicana orange juice (10g per 100ml).

Sugar isn't the biggest culprit either. The alcohol-free wine is calorie-dense, at 4kcals per gram, but it's still beaten by alcohol, which has 7kcals per gram. This makes Freixenet's 0.0% drink by far the lighter choice if you're watching your waistline.

However, if you're after a sugar-free, low-calorie tipple to sip at a picnic, you might need to look beyond de-alcoholised drinks. Non-alcoholic distilled drinks, such as Seedlip, are an alternative to spirits and work well with cocktails (although you'll need to use diet mixers to keep it calorie-free).

See our round-up of the best alcohol-free beer.

How to serve sparkling rose

Our wine experts offer their three top tips:

  • Serve sparkling rose chilled rather than cold, so you don't spoil the flavour or lose the enticing aroma.
  • Rose works really well on its own but, if you're pairing with food, opt for fish, salads and fruity desserts.
  • If you're after a drink to wash down barbecued meat, look for a darker, pinker wine, as they tend to be drier and fuller.

See all of our wine guides for more recommendations and expert advice.

How we tested sparkling rose

People drinking sparkling rose

A panel of 106 sparkling rose-drinking consumers blind-tasted each bottle.

We asked them to rate the taste, aroma, appearance and mouthfeel for each one, as well as telling us which one they preferred overall.

The samples were all served in exactly the same way and chilled before testing.