Grill Hills

De-alcoholised wine: How do they take the booze out of the bottle?

Our food expert answers your cooking queries

12 August 2020 - 16:06 By hilary biller
De-alcoholised wine contains less than 0.5% alcohol.
De-alcoholised wine contains less than 0.5% alcohol.
Image: 123RF/Dotshock


Since the alcohol ban started again, a lot of my friends have been talking about “de-alcoholised” wines. How do they take the alcohol out of wine, and does it taste like the real deal? — Curious in KwaZulu-Natal


I put the question to an expert, winemaker Reg Holder, who is the mastermind behind the local Lautus range of de-alcoholised wines.

He says that removing the alcohol from wine is done at low temperatures under a vacuum using “spinning cone technology”.

First, he explains, “the wine’s volatile flavour and aromatic essence is captured and set aside”. Next the neutral alcohol is removed from the wine. The two are then combined to create a sip with less than 0.5% alcohol by volume — so not 100% alcohol-free.

Holder admits there is bit of a taste difference between de-alcoholised wine and the real deal.

“Alcohol makes up a big part of wine — an average of 13% by volume. It has a sweetness and burning sensation that adds to mouthfeel and expression of flavours. Saying that, we do our best to mimic these expressions in our products,” he explains.

This accounts as to why de-alcoholised wine may have a higher sugar content than the original, though it contains fewer kilojoules overall.

“I think you need to see de-alcoholised wine as an alternative and not a replica. It’s like comparing a banting pizza with a pizza — a good alternative but not the same.”


In a cookery quandary, have a problem with a recipe, bogged down by measurement conversions, or baffled by an ingredient? For sound advice, Sunday Times food editor Hilary Biller is at your service. Send your queries to with “Grill Hills” in the subject line. If yours is selected, she'll answer it in an online article.