I’m a fan. That’s it. Just three words are needed to sum up how I feel about Van Loveren’s Almost Zero range. Well, maybe I’ll add the adjective ‘huge’ into that sentence. Following on from their release last year of Wonderful White – a white ‘wine’ with pretty much no alcohol (as in less than 0,4%) – Van Loveren recently added to their range with the release of an Almost Zero Ravishing Rosé as well as a Radiant Red.

I love wine – not just regular love, understand. Love-love, adoration type stuff. For me dinner without wine is like pizza without cheese – unthinkable, incomprehensible madness. But I’m also conscious of the fact that I have a liver, and I’d rather like to keep it that way. That’s why, since the release of their rosé and red versions a few weeks ago, Almost Zero has become my tipple of choice for guilt-free weeknight dinners.

Is it wine? Legally it cannot be called wine because it contains, well, Almost Zero alcohol. But it comes in a wine bottle. And it smells and tastes sufficiently like wine for me to be able to pretend I’m drinking wine-wine – minus the calories, minus the hangover, minus the dodgy liver.

Less than 0,4% sounds like little. But what does it really mean? Let’s play a context game. You can drink one glass of normal wine or… you could drink 38 glasses of Almost Zero to ingest the same amount of alcohol. Hmmm. So I can go to a braai, put away an entire bottle of Radiant Red, have a fabulous time thinking I’m drinking and… drive home sober as a judge.

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Almost Zero everything! Less alcohol, less sugar, less carbs. Almost perfect if you’re watching the liver and waistline.

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Almost Zero is not just low in alcohol, it also has 75% fewer calories than normal wine and way less sugar – only 2.2g/100g of sugar and 4.2g/100g of carbohydrates in each bottle. Let’s play another context game – this means ten glasses of Almost Zero has the same sugar as one glass of commercial orange juice!

So what does Van Loveren do to make this non-wine wine? It starts out as regular wine, then, to remove the alcohol, it is gently spun, allowing the wine to spread thinly across steel cones and the alcohol to evaporate. The rosé is lovely ice cold, and very much retains that classical rosé marker, Turkish Delight. I can see myself making it my no-booze tipple of choice come summer. But right now, in winter, the ripe mulberry notes of the Radiant Red has my attention. I haven’t spoken to Van Loveren to establish how early sales are going. But I figure I don’t need to, because it is now almost permanently out of stock in the wine section of my local Pick n Pay (grumble, grumble). And that probably says it all.

I am not advocating that you abandon wine-wine. I don’t consider that to be the idea behind Almost Zero. Perish the thought! For me Almost Zero is an addition to my wine rack, a much healthier alternative for those times when you want to drink wine-wine, but can’t (because you’re driving or having lunch with the boss) or won’t (because it’s teetotal Wednesday).

 Find Almost Zero around the country at retailers including Pick ‘n Pay, Makro, Spar, Checkers and Ultra Liquors. For more information about Almost Zero, call Van Loveren on 023 615 1505 or visit their website.

 

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Also available in: English