Google of course! It took some time to figure out what to search for. The easiest to find were mocktail drinks. Like this, this, and this. (I didn't find out until later that a wine enthusiast would probably find it ridiculous to call those even fake champagnes. It's not Champagne if it's not from France!) Well, those might be fun to try, but I was looking something a little more... well, interesting.
I found several articles like this one.
The quick summary is this: Decide why you want to drink non-alcholic wine. If you want to just look cool and fit in, there are a lot of cheap solutions like juice mixes. If you want to experience the taste of wine, however, the fermentation process is critical. If you want the health benefits, there are some places that sell fancy juices.
This one article, however, has a few mentions of places to find wine alternatives that turned out to be, when combined, the biggest collection of non-alcoholic wines and varietal grape juices I've found. I'll share those sources soon. (I know the, suspense is even killing me!) I guess you *could* look at the article itself...
Let's take a look at a few other sources I found first, however.
Dr. Gourmet on Non-Alcoholic Wines is a good read, but perhaps not as detailed as I'd like. There are a bunch of rapid-fire reviews (some as short as Ariel's "Chardonnay (9 out of 10)."), some general health information, and super quick synopsis of cooking with them (on the left column).
The LA Times' article WEIGHING IN - Wine without booze? Why? mentions that wine with its alcohol removed has less calories, and talks about some reasons, as the article's title alludes, as to "Why?" The best part is, starting on page two, they have some reviews of popular wines, but they were reviewed by a small group, so you get several opinions. They were all regular drinkers of alcoholic wine.
The next article is the source of much of my angst. 'Bottom's up': non-alcoholic wine exporter toasts world markets tells the tale of a small Californian company called Creative Juices. The article makes it sound fantastic. Varietal grape juices designed specifically to be wine alternatives, yet I cannot find anything about this company. Please leave a comment here if you know anything about them!
Wine and Beer That Won't Make You Fat or Tipsy? I'll Drink to That! is the Washington Post's version of the LA Times article.
Here is an article called Wine without worry that is a lot like the articles from the heavy hitting newspapers, but is from worldsofwine.com (redirects to RodPhillipsOnWine.com) which is a serious look at the juice.
I scoured Wine Country looking for anything non-alcoholic, and found what might turn out to be a few really good gems.
Nonalcoholic 'Beer' and 'Wine;' How Close to the Real Thing - an article behind a pay-wall. Just the abstract is free. Anyone wanna fork up to tell us if it's any good? :)
Resources about "real" wine, for the beginner.
After reading those articles, I began to look for information about wine in general. I figured some reading about traditional wine might help me know what to look for, what to expect, etc. etc.
WineIntro.com has a wonderful section on Wine Basics that is very approachable to someone interested in alcohol removed wines. Tons of the information is very applicable even to alcohol removed wines. Serving temperatures, common tastes and smells in wine, pairing suggestions, and more.
A little more dense is SOYOUWANNA LEARN THE BASICS OF WINE? (SOYOUWANNA TYPE IN ALL CAPS?) Interesting info, but a little dry and generic. My other problem is it's not from a dedicated wine site - might not matter, but I tend to want to go somewhere that's dedicated and passionate about what I'm looking for.
I've got ideas for several posts about this next topic, but a few of these I just have to put out there.
-WikiHow.com has a step-by-step my-way-or-the-highway guide to Tasting Wine.
-A little less in-your-face advice comes from the WineDoctor (with pictures!).
(He actually has quite a bit of good advice on the matter.)
2basnob.com provides us with a wine dictionary that is thorough but not so arcane as to put off someone new to this whole field.
I'm very glad I was able to find what I did, but I was really hoping to find a site dedicated to Wine Alternatives. I did find quite a few "mocktails" and other virgin drink websites. I plan on trying some of those out, but most of them seem more like dessert, or maybe something to drink on it's own. I'm really looking for the perfect complement to meals.
There are a few more resources I found, but they are more specific and topical, so I'll be sharing those in future posts.
I feel what I've found has armed me to begin, but really, the answer to the question "where to start?" is "by trying some!"
That's why the next post is probably the most important.
[UPDATE] I just found a new article that's great! It talks about chefs in high end restaurants that are pairing non-alcholic drinks with their tasting menus.
I also found a site that has a list of things to try, but it's hidden at the bottom right of this page.