I recently tried Ariel Brut Cuvée (Italics makes any food or drink look better) and found a dealcoholized wine I actually liked! It got me wondering, however, if I wasn't just deluding myself. I couldn't help but feel like the same taste might be accomplished with some apple juice, grape juice, and nice sparkling water. So, thus came another great experiment. In addition to the two most common non-alcoholic Bruts I'm going to try a few sparkling waters to compare, and see if I really was duped by the bubbly Ariel or had reason to really like it. See my Sparkling Water Roundup.
I had anxiously waited to try out another brut cuvée (though Sutter Home doesn't call their Fre Brut a "cuvée") ever since the Ariel stunned me. I stopped by my regular source for Ariel and Fre, and also snagged some S. Pellegrino, Perrier Lime, and Big K Lemon Lime from Walmart and Fry's.
On the nose it reminded me of some of the chardonnays I'd had before, though the scent was much stronger and easier to catch, including when compared to Ariel Brut, and it had a light golden color compared to the Ariel's more clear coloring. The effervescence produced a steady stream of small bubbles.
Diving in, the first thing I noticed was the sweetness. I was expecting a very dry drink after Ariel's Brut, but this is almost as sweet as Welch's Sparkling White Grape Juice. I'm surprised it's called a Brut, but apparently there is some leeway in the labeling system. It's also more flavorful than Ariel's Brut, and speaking of Welch's Sparkling White Grape Juice, Fre Brut reminds me of it, though more complex and, as noted, not quite as sweet, with that grapey, fermented taste peaking through. The carbonation gives it a strong, somewhat hot bite on the tongue.
It's a little drier than most juices, is crisp and cut through the mexican food we had well, though I'm not sure it was the best pairing. Drinking this on its own was better than drinking the Ariel Brut alone, and with food Fre's Brut was complementary, whereas Ariel's Brut was contrasting, which I preferred. I would call Fre's more approachable. It was extremely light on tannins, sweet, slightly acidic and of a medium weight.
Works as a Wine Alternative: Yes, and a very good one for someone who might be new to all this.
Did I Like it: Yes, my wife and I both enjoyed it (she did not like the Ariel at all) so we'll be picking this up again in the future. 7/10
Would I Recommend it: Yes, it's very approachable.
Who Might Like it: Some people might prefer something less "juicy" than this.
[update] I put a topper on the bottle (pictured) and put it in the fridge (as directed on the bottle after opening...) It didn't taste as sweet, and I've thought of two reasons why that could be. 1.) it's less carbonated, sometimes this can make things seem less sweet, and/or 2.) I didn't drink it right after trying several bitter sparkling waters. More of the grape taste comes through.