Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They’re not “near beers,” they’re not “mocktails”—they’re delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freixenet non-alcoholic sparkling wines taste almost exactly like champagne, and I have no idea how this is even possible. Granted, I have not had a drop of champagne in over seven years, but since it’s one of the only alcoholic drinks I’m able to associate with positive memories, I can mostly remember the taste and do occasionally miss it. Champagne turns anything into a celebration and turns you into a fancy bastard. As I write this week’s column, I am sitting at a shoddy little desk next my unmade bed in coffee-stained pajamas, double-fisting Freixenet’s sparkling white and rosé alcohol removed wines in glasses from Dollar Tree, and this is the sexiest I’ve ever felt at two o’clock in the afternoon. When I was a little girl, this is the woman I dreamed I’d be once I grew up.
I assume that Friexenet (pronounced “fresh-e-net”) removes the alcohol from these wines via the spinning cone method but I don’t know for sure, nor do I really care. It’s much more fun pretending things like this are magic, isn’t it? The first time I had non-alcoholic wine a decade or so years ago, it tasted like grape juice that conned me into dropping $9.95 on it by hopping into a nicer bottle. It doesn’t feel great getting duped by fancy juice, which is why I developed an inherent distrust of it. When I revisited the genre about three years back with the lowest of expectations, I found it much better, but not quite indistinguishable from the real thing: it was still grape juice, but it had grown into a grape juice that I could respect. Now, between the Luminara Red I wrote about in March and this stuff, I cannot fully process what is happening in the world of non-alcoholic wine, and have no choice but to attribute something I once thought impossible to the supernatural.
Drinking Friexenet, I do not feel like I’m settling, nor do I feel like I’ve been betrayed. This isn’t grape juice trying to be something it’s not—it’s sparkling wine that’s gone straightedge. Perhaps it’s not actually as good as the proper champagne I so hazily remember, but things like that don’t matter when it can make pajamas and rumpled blankets feel magical.