Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Castello di Amorosa non-vintage non-alcoholic grape juices

If you have kids in your life and you drink wine, you know that they watch what we do and mimic. They want to cheer with the milk or water. They sometimes swirl the glass. And, they may ask to smell, and sometime taste, your wine. Now you can share “wine” with the kids in your life with the Castello di Amorosa non-vintage non-alcoholic grape juices, the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Wine plays a central part in my life. My home is filled with bottles and wine is on the table at almost every meal. My nephew and niece are aware of what I do and I always offer to let them smell the wine and even give them a little drop of a taste. My nephew loved it when he was three but now, at the age of seven,  is a little particular. My niece, on the other hand, loves smelling wine and after tasting a drop (from my finger) always asks for more. She then tells me that she LOVES wine. She is almost four and it makes me laugh.

But recently, I received samples of the Castello di Amorosa non-vintage non-alcoholic grape juices. Castello di Amorosa is a medieval-style Tuscan castle winery located in Calistoga in Napa Valley. Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking, and Peter Velleno, Winemaker, were asked by customers to make grape juices as healthy, flavorful and non-alcoholic alternatives to wine. And, using the same grapes that they use for their wines, they began making grape juice.


However, we are not talking about your super sweet juice made from concentrate with acid added for tartness. These are grape juices that are true to the varietal flavors. There are three flavors:

  • Muscat Canelli Grape Juice made from 100% Muscat Canelli, sourced from vineyards in Sonoma, Solano and Santa Barbara counties
  • Sparkling Grape Juice Red Blend made from 90% Gamay, 5% Grenache, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the estate vineyard at the winery in Calistoga and the Tamayo Vineyard in Napa Valley
  • Gewurztraminer Grape Juice made from 100% Gewurztraminer from a vineyard in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County

The grape juice is made much the same way as the wine. How is this different from wine? They do not add yeast to convert the sugars to alcohol. The grapes are handpicked a few days early so that there is acidity. The grapes are destemmed and pressed and then the juice is chilled to 32 degrees. The resulting juice is a fresh product that has not been pasteurized. And with a screw cap closer, it can be aged up to two years!

But the real taste test was with my nephew Harrison and niece Reese. I brought them the bottles and set it up like a proper tasting. We each had three glasses and I poured the three juices side by side. We then tasted each one and they gave me their thoughts.

We started with the Muscat Canelli Grape Juice. We liked the sweet aromatics but on the palate, there was a balance with tartness. Harrison and Reese immediately said it was their favorite.

We then tried the Sparkling Grape Juice Red Blend. With a touch of effervescence, Harrison was not a fan of the bubbles. But Reese loved this one. The aromatics were less sweet and more red berries.

We then tried the Gewurztraminer Grape Juice and found this one to be the sweetest of all but still had some tartness.

Reese declared that she liked them all and asked for more!

Harrison is more discerning and ranking them in order with the Muscat as his favorite, the Gewurztraminer his second favorite and the Red Blend his least favorite.

I explained to him that this is what wine tasting is about. We try them all and sometimes we love them all and sometimes we have preferences. There is no right or wrong. It should just be enjoyable.

Whether you want to “wine taste” with the kids or perhaps you don’t drink wine, I recommend trying the Castello di Amorosa non-vintage non-alcoholic grape juices. The are healthy, flavorful non-alcohol alternatives to soda and other naturally sweetened drinks. Order directly from the winery a single bottle for $14 or buy a 6-pack or 12-pack.