Ariel Vineyards
Cabernet from Ariel Vineyards is alcohol-free and low calorie

In this season of friends and family, let’s toast--to wine. Delicious, magical elixir--how we love thee even though thou leadest to extra pounds and occasionally a pounding headache. 

But what to do about the non-drinkers in our family? Will teetotaling Aunt Polly, teenage Rick and newly pregnant Sue just have to pass on the cheers? Not this year, thanks to our discovery of nonalcoholic California-made wines from Ariel Vineyards.

Made of Central Valley grapes (the same ones used by winemaker J. Lohr), Ariel creates its won’t-get-you-buzzed, award-winning vintages by pushing traditionally fermented white, blush and red wines through a recycling process called reverse osmosis that strips all but .5 percent of the alcohol. 

We tried the Blanc, Chardonnay and Rouge varieties (about $6 a bottle) and were happily surprised. All are lighter than their alcoholic analogs, but the Chardonnay still has a buttery, faintly oaky taste. The Rouge is stolidly tannic, and our favorite, the Blanc, is sweet and crisp. We’d serve the red with a steak or the whites with turkey any day.

A bonus for the dieters in your clan: Each has less than half the calories of its alcoholic counterpart. Perhaps we’ll be sneaking a sip from old Aunt Polly after all. 

Available at Whole Foods, 6350 W. Third St.; 323-964-6800 or arielvineyards.com

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