Review: Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies
There are a lot of tips and tricks on the internet when it comes to improving the flavors and experience of non-alcoholic wine. Some swear by serving their alcohol-free reds and white at a very specific temperature. Others suggest uncorking your bottle for a certain length of time before consuming. Ice. Fresh Berries. A splash of juice. There are endless recommendations for making non-alcoholic wine more enjoyable.
One of the strangest (yet most common) suggestions? Vinegar.
That’s right. Visit any Facebook group or online forum discussing non-alcoholic wine, and you’re bound to find people that swear by adding a splash of balsamic or some other vinegar to their glass of alcohol-free red or white before drinking. And while this may seem strange at first, when you stop and think about it, there’s actually a lot of sense to this. With a little oxygen, traditional wine turns into vinegar rather easily. So perhaps the underlying flavor profile is exactly what’s needed to give an otherwise bland glass of non-alcoholic wine a kick.
That’s what the folks at Acid League are banking on, anyways.
Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies
Launched in early 2019, Acid League is a Canadian company founded by a group of food scientists looking to reinvent vinegar. Their first product line was a series of “Living Vinegars” – a collection of raw, unfiltered vinegars fermented with premium herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables. These products were an instant hit, and the company began selling them across North America through Whole Foods stores. But this vinegar-obsessed team knew that they were just scratching the surface of what was possible. To expand their business, they took a deep look at the history of vinegar.
It was during this research that the Acid League team came across an old recipe for “posca” – a beverage that’s been referred to as the world’s first energy drink. Posca was used in ancient Rome as a means to hydrate soldiers. Water back then tended to carry illness-causing bacteria, and while there was plenty of wine to drink, soldiers needed to keep their mental edge between battles. So, they started mixing vinegar with honey, spices, and herbs as a means to stay hydrated and focused.
As the Acid League team began experimenting with ways to recreate this ancient beverage, they realized that their combinations carried a similar complexity and “bite” to that of wine. And with that, the idea for the Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies was born.
Available exclusive through their website via a monthly subscription, Acid League releases a lineup of three new wine proxies every month. Each proxy is built upon its own unique flavor profile, meaning they’re not meant to be a straight replacement for your traditional glass of Cab or Sauvignon Blanc. But they do carry the unique complexity and experience of drinking that evening glass of wine.
Forever in search of the absolute best non-alcoholic wines, the team at YOURS ordered its first monthly shipment of Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies this month, and sat down to give them a full tasting and review. Read on for our complete thoughts…
Review: Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies
The first thing you notice about Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies is the packaging. Our order arrived in a beautifully branded Acid League box. Upon opening the box, we were met with three colorful bottles banded with unique labels and an elegant wax seal over the cork. In addition, our package contained a set of inserts introducing our proxymaker for that month, as well as descriptions of each of the three proxies included in our shipment: Dragon Blood, Terre Sauvage, and Tripping in Alsace.
We began our tasting with the “red” variety, Dragon Blood. Pouring a rich shade of red, Dragon Blood certainly looked like a glass of robust traditional wine, though the aroma made it clear that this was a vinegar-rich beverage. Our included tasting card mentioned notes of Saskatoon berry, blackberry, wolfberry, Syrah grapes, pea flour vinegar, green peppercorn, Dragon’s Blood spice, olive brine, Pu-erh tea, French oak, and more, which all combine together to create an incredibly complex taste. Rich, meaty, and tart, our first non-alcoholic wine proxy didn’t taste like any wine we’ve ever tried. That said, it did recreate a lot of the experience we love about a glass of red, and the bouquet of rich flavors would pair well with red meats and mushrooms, meaning we could definitely see this serving as a unique stand-in to enjoy over a nice home-cooked meal.
Next up was the Terre Sauvage. Made from McIntosh apples, Chardonnay grapes, apple vinegar, spruce tips, cedar, Labrador tea, fennel, juniper, and more, this non-alcoholic wine proxy was much more subdued on the vinegar aroma and flavor than Dragon Blood. We could really taste the subtle sweetness of fresh fruits, though they’re balanced quite well with the mixture of spices and botanicals. As expected, this wasn’t really a straight up replacement for any variety of wine we know, but this was certainly the most “wine like” of the three proxies we tried. Served chilled in a nice wine glass, we’d happily enjoy this any night of the week as a change of pace from our favorite non-alcoholic chardonnays.
Our final non-alcoholic wine proxy was titled Tripping in Alsace. Made from a bouquet of fresh fruit, including lychee, pineapple, peach, and grapes, plus rose vinegar, pink peppercorn, clove, and a variety of teas and hops, this aromatic white featured a similar complexity to the Dragon Blood. The fruit flavors in this proxy were very forward, and helped cut the bite of vinegar. That said, we don’t know how much we’d be able to enjoy in any one sitting. After half a glass we felt like we had gotten our fill of this particular flavor profile for the evening. However, those into sweeter fruit wines may find this to be just what they were looking for in the non-alcoholic space.
Final Thoughts: Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxies
From the box to the labels to the wax seals and more, everything about the Acid League Non-Alcoholic Wine Proxy experience is top notch. Opening a bottle feels like a treat. Something special to celebrate. Which, for the long neglected non-alcoholic wine space, is something we can absolutely applaud.
That said, Acid League Wine Proxies are complicated, and are not crafted to be an everyday replacement for your favorite grocery store cabernet. The flavor profiles of these alcohol-free wines are incredibly complex, and they may not be for everyone. At least not on a regular basis. But for those that miss the exploration that comes with traditional wine tastings, there is much to enjoy about the Acid League experience. And with the right expectations, you may just find something new and exciting to amplify your alcohol-free lifestyle.