Review: San Pellegrino's New Lineup Is A Sparkling Standout Among Zero-Sugar Brands

Close your eyes, and imagine you're relaxing on a beach, baking in the sun. You reach to the table next to you to find a refreshing beverage, the glass it's in, sweating from the condensation. For us, that refreshing beverage is undoubtedly a sparkling one, providing that bubbly, refreshing sip that makes even the hottest day seem not so bad. San Pellegrino is just one of the many sparkling beverage options that provide this thirst-quenching experience, and despite the heavy competition, it continues to stand out as a high-end sparkling beverage for all. 

San Pellegrino launched its first flavored drink in 1932 with its Aranciata flavor, leaning on the oranges from southern Italy to create a refreshing beverage that complemented its original sparkling water. Today, it offers various fruity flavors, from blood orange and lemon to grapefruit and pomegranate.

San Pellegrino has launched a line of zero-sugar options in four flavors — Blood Orange, Lemonade, Peach & Clementine, and Pomegranate & Orange. The line offers a lower sugar, lower calorie, and lower carbohydrate alternative to the traditional lineup. These zero-sugar options are crucial, as consumers are leaning into healthier lifestyle choices focusing on lower calorie and sugar intake. The hope, however, is to cut out the sugar without cutting out the flavor. Just in time for these new products to hit grocery store shelves, we had an opportunity to sample the new lineup alongside the traditional flavors to see if removing the sugar means removing the flavor, too.

San Pellegrino's new zero-sugar offerings

The sparkling beverage trend has ebbed and flowed over the last several years. Many brands have introduced unique flavors that add flavored fun without the calories. San Pellegrino is leaning into its Italian heritage, urging people to embrace la dolce vita (the good life) with this "0 grams added sugar" line. Additionally, to celebrate the expansion of its beverage collection, San Pellegrino is giving fans the chance to win $10,000, which one lucky winner can use toward a trip to Italy.

When brands offer healthy alternatives to their original offerings, it's often to tap into trends, and San Pellegrino is doing just that. According to a report from Future Market Insights, the global zero-sugar beverages market is set to exceed more than $13 million in sales by 2033. The report states, "Shifting attitudes toward sugar consumption and the rising prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and obesity is set to drive the market."

To add some charm to their products, beverage companies are relying on a host of "high-intensity sweeteners," according to Future Market Insights. Along with lowering calories, these additives provide a similar sweetening effect to sugar, often without causing blood sugar spikes, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They include things like aspartame, saccharin, stevia, and monk fruit sugar. By offering sparkling beverage drinkers the chance to enjoy their favorite sweet beverages without added sugar, San Pellegrino is awarding people the opportunity to live la dolce vita.

What are the flavors?

The new flavor offerings in the San Pellegrino zero sugar collection are a love letter to the Mediterranean, focusing on citrus flavors and the fruits that complement them the best. The new lineup includes Blood Orange, Lemonade, Peach & Clementine, and Pomegranate & Orange. Each 330 milliliter can have between 1 and 4 grams of sugar from fruit juice and 20 calories or less, depending on the flavor.

These flavors are an expansion of the traditional Italian sparkling drinks — each of which has approximately 130 calories and 30 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor — which includes Aranciata Rossa, Limonata, Melograno & Arancia, Aranciata, and Pompelmo. Additionally, the zero-sugar lineup boasts a slightly shorter ingredient list than the original lineup, which is almost entirely made up of fruit juice concentrate and no calorie sweeteners. In contrast, the original's ingredient list is somewhat longer and has sugar as one of its top additives for every flavor. 

Nutritional information for regular and zero-sugar San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino's new zero-sugar lineup is all about offering options that give people the same fizzy, fruit-forward flavors of its traditional lineup without the added calories or sugar. For the sparkling water enthusiast who wants to lower their intake without forgoing taste, the zero-sugar varietals tick the right boxes. 

One serving (a single 330 milliliter can) of San Pellegrino's zero-sugar sparkling drinks contains anywhere from 15 to 20 calories, 0 grams of fat or sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, and between 1 and 4 grams of sugar. As far as where that sugar is coming from, the ingredient list names sucralose, which is an artificial no-calorie sweetener, and pectin, which is a fiber found in fruits and "adds a trivial amount of added sugar" to the drink. Additionally, each flavor contains between 8 and 10% real fruit juice.

While the traditional San Pellegrino sparkling lineup can boast a higher percentage of juice in each can, it also has a much higher calorie, carbohydrate, and sugar count. One serving of San Pellegrino's traditional sparkling drinks contains between 110 to 130 calories and 0 grams of fat and sodium. However, they have between 30 and 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 26 to 30 grams of natural sugar, including 22 to 26 grams of added sugar. Unlike the zero-sugar offerings, which use sucralose and pectin to add that hint of sweetness, the traditional beverages use plain sugar.

Price and availability

To kick off 2024 on a sweet (but not too sweet) note, the sun-kissed citrus flavors of San Pellegrino's zero-sugar lineup hit grocery store shelves in January 2024 in 330-milliliter single cans and 6-can packs. The rollout will be nationwide, allowing sparkling water enthusiasts to start the new year with healthier options compared to the original lineup and other sparkling and zero-sugar beverages on store shelves.

To get your hands on these zero-sugar options and live your best la dolce vita, visit your local Costco to pick up a pack now. Additional retailers across the U.S. will offer the zero-sugar lineup in the coming months, and online shoppers can find them on Amazon as well. The zero-sugar line is priced at $6.99 for a 6-can pack.

San Pellegrino regular flavors taste test

While the lower calorie and lower sugar count of the zero-sugar offerings from San Pellegrino are enticing, as sparkling beverage lovers, especially flavored sparkling beverages, we had to compare them to their full sugar counterparts. We tried each traditional flavor alongside the San Pellegrino zero-sugar alternative for the best comparison. Both options were sampled on their own, in a glass with a few ice cubes, channeling the best possible way to enjoy a refreshing sparkling drink during the hot summer months.

The first tasting note we got from the traditional lineup is sugar. While refreshing, these options rely on sugar for flavor rather than the natural sweetness from the fruit juice, making for something sickly sweet instead of light and refreshing. Pomegranate & Orange and Lemonade are by far the sweetest of the bunch; despite featuring more sour fruits and fruit juices in its ingredient lists, the overarching taste is sugary with little balance of sourness or bitterness. Considering the sugar and calorie count of the traditional offerings, these are better used as mixers for a cocktail or a mocktail rather than as a refreshing sparkling option with just a hint of sweetness.

San Pellegrino zero-sugar flavors taste test

After trying the traditional San Pellegrino lineup and being blown away by the sweetness of each flavor, we expected the zero-sugar options to lack in flavor entirely. To our surprise and extreme delight, the zero-sugar options are anything but flavorless. They make the real fruit juice used in each can shine, accentuating the sweet, sour, and bitter flavors of these delightful and refreshing citrus options in perfect balance.

The most notable tasting note of the zero-sugar lineup is how light each flavor is. They are sweet, to be sure, but not so much that you can taste the sugar crystals in each sip. Instead, they are refreshing and enjoyable, with just the right amount of fruity flavor without being cloying or tasting artificial. Of the zero-sugar bunch, the standout flavor is the Peach & Clementine. It's juicy and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweet, natural sugar from the fruit juice to make this a sip worthy of going back for again and again. One notable downside for sparkling soda enthusiasts is that these sugar-free options can be a bit more tart, far from being prevalent in the traditional versions or other sodas. For those who rely on that traditional note to get an instant hit of sugary, fruity flavor in their drink, the zero-sugar option won't fully deliver. Still, we're guessing that's not why you picked them up.

San Pellegrino zero-sugar vs. regular

For us, there is a clear winner when choosing between the traditional and zero-sugar San Pellegrino options. From a taste perspective, the zero-sugar options have a more palatable flavor since they rely more on the ingredients' fresh, juicy notes instead of added sugar from artificial flavoring. If you have more of a sweet tooth and consider the traditional flavor options somewhat of a sweet treat to enjoy every so often, that's fair, but we'd much rather enjoy those same flavors without all of the added sugar. The bubbles, an essential factor when choosing a sparkling drink, are equally as bubbly in the zero-sugar as they are in the traditional, so if you're concerned about sacrificing the sparkles when you opt for the lower-sugar option, fear not.

From a nutritional perspective, it's clear that the zero-sugar options are a better option. They are remarkably lower in calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, so if you are trying to focus on decreasing your sugar and calorie intake in the new year without saying goodbye to sparkling beverages entirely — or you have health and dietary concerns that require you to consume low sugar or no sugar beverages — these drinks are for you. Another benefit of the zero-sugar lineup is that it can boast a more attractive nutritional label on the can while still tasting great.

Are the zero-sugar flavors worth trying?

Whether you're a regular sparkling beverage drinker or just getting into the world of flavored drinks, we highly recommend trying the San Pellegrino zero-sugar flavors. After trying all the options in both lineups, we'd always opt for the zero-sugar lineup. Additionally, while an excellent sparkling beverage like this is always memorable as a mixer in a punch or cocktail, we love this zero-sugar line all on its own. 

That said, if it's that sweetness that you're looking for (especially in that Blood Orange or Limonata flavor) and you aren't as concerned with the nutrition label, the zero-sugar may not live up to sweet tooth standards. Diet and sugar-free sodas accomplish the goal of providing a drink without the added sugar and calories. Still, sometimes you want the full sugar option, and no calorie count or ingredient list will get you to opt for any alternative.

Considering the taste of San Pellegrino's zero-sugar lineup is just as enjoyable as the traditional if not more so, the fact that this new lineup is a more "nutritious" option is a bonus. Keeping up with a flavor or health trend can be difficult for a food or beverage brand, so it's impressive that San Pellegrino launched a sugar-free option that taps into it without sacrificing the flavor or overall enjoyability of an excellent sparkling beverage. A few ice cubes, an orange or lemon wedge, and a bright sunny day are the perfect way to enjoy these flavors entirely guilt-free.