Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we’ll 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 email@example.com.
I don’t drink a lot of non-alcoholic wine. Not because I don’t like wine, but because whenever I drink it my sons make “jokes” about me being a “Wine Mom.” I take great umbrage at being called a Wine Mom, for the Wine Mom archetype is the antithesis of everything I am! I will not make jokes about Wine Moms, but I will also not hesitate to ground the hell out of anyone who insinuates I have an affinity for LuLaRoe.
But the holidays are approaching, which means big festive dinners with glistening wine goblets and temptation passed around the table like green beans and gravy. Diet Coke is not festive enough for such special times, so for months I’ve been on the lookout for a non-alcoholic wine that passes the taste test. I believe River Organics Sparkling Hemp Sangria is that wine; partially because of the flavor, but mostly because of the 30mg of hemp-derived cannabinoids that can help you get through holiday dinner without completely losing your shit.
I know, I know: bottled sangria isn’t really wine. But at the holidays, a beverage has a lot more boxes to check besides simply tasting good. The flavor of River Organics’ Sparkling Sangria reminds me of a lowbrow, guilty pleasure “wine product”—the kind no one admits to enjoying in front of their fellow sophisticates, even if their heart secretly throbs for Arbor Mist. This sparkling NA wine doesn’t taste like sangria as much as it does mulled wine, with strong sweet notes of dried cherries, hints of orange, and a warm wave of cinnamon rippling through a de-alcoholized red wine blend. I’m not sure how much I’d like drinking it in the middle of July, but on a bitterly cold day when the sun sets before 5 p.m., it’s perfect.
If mulled wine is what you’re looking for, you could gently warm a mug of River Organics’ Sangria in the microwave and be snug as a bug in a rug in 90 seconds. I prefer to drink it ice cold, though, because it’s bubbly like champagne, and what’s a celebration without champagne?
This sparkling beverage makes me happy, and we should grab every iota of happiness we can find this time of year. The holidays are supposed to be holly and jolly, but for many of us (especially the moms), they can be brutal. The holidays are when Wine Moms are born.
This brings me to the final trial I put River Organics’ Sparkling Sangria through to determine its seasonal appropriateness. Instead of tasting it alone at my desk, I drank it in front of my kids, subjecting myself to the Wine Mom “jokes” they ran into the ground in less than a minute but continued to make for hours without tiring. As their jokes got more and more annoying, I found myself getting calmer and calmer thanks to the sparkling sangria’s 30mg of hemp-derived cannabinoids. I didn’t mind the yelling, the quibbling, the screaming Taylor Swift lyrics that had been cleverly altered to be about farts. It was the hardest test of them all, and this bottle passed with flying colors. I never expected a bottled non-alcoholic sangria to be the holiday beverage I needed, but I’m sure glad I found it in the nick of time.
At $29.99 per bottle, this stuff certainly isn’t cheap—but you can’t put a price on alleviating end-of-year stress.