So as you may or may not know, I don’t always drink alcohol for a number of reasons. I try to limit my drinks to once or twice a month or special occasions, but as you can probably see on my instagram it varies. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to keep up when you love a bevy haha. First and foremost is because I have bipolar disorder. Alcohol and bipolar do not go very well together. It can push me into a full blown manic episode. It will reach a point where I’m drinking with imaginary friends, run off with them into the night, go bat shit crazy and I will probably fight you if you try to take my wine away. Let’s be honest over the years, it’s got me into all kinds of trouble. The other is living with a chronic illness (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome). Alcohol seems to make my chronic pain and fatigue considerably worse, it also sets my bowel off. I will end up with either diarrhoea for days or my gastroparesis will flare up and I’ll be vomitting every time I eat, for what can sometimes be weeks.
Over the past 12 months I’ve been sampling different alcohol free wines, gins, beers and ciders. I know a lot of people are doing dry January (well Boris put a spanner in the works of that one for some of us didn’t he) or those who also have health issues so do not drink. So I’m going to share my top 3 of each with you.
Alcohol free wines:
1. Scavi & Ray alcohol free. 10/10. If you’ve ever had the alcohol containing version there’s not much flavour difference, so all the prosecco, zero the alcohol. Retails at around £8.99 on amazon. I have yet to find it in a shop!
2. Freixenet sparkling rose.’ This is a wine I’ve bought time and time again because it’s so good. £5 in selected supermarkets.
3. Belle & Co alcohol free sparkling rose.’ This pops up in supermarkets every now and again, really lovely but is not as wine tasting as the others. Really good value and usually ranges from £3-£5.
I know I said I was only doing 3 however they can be on the pricey side, so if you’re looking for a cheaper version Asda do their own version and it’s really good value at £3.50 and is a lovely dry sparkling wine. Not 100% alcohol free but really low alcohol.
I just want to add in two wines that aren’t sparkling they are:
Hardy’s alcohol free chardonnay. If you drink white wine you will love this. You could be drinking an alcohol containing wine, it’s actually that good.
If you have people over and you fancy some sangria without the alcohol I highly recommend using Fre’ alcohol removed merlot, which actually went down really well with even the alcohol drinkers when we had people over. To give it a bit more flavour I used fanta instead of lemonade which sounds weird, but believe me it’s a game changer.
Alcohol free beers and ciders:
For me there are only a small number of alcohol free beers I can drink as most contain gluten, so I am by no means an expert on them. Ciders however, are pretty much all free from gluten.
Beers I’ve tried:
1. Big Drop Brewing co. paradiso citra IPA. This did taste like the real thing. I love a gluten free IPA so this is right up my street. Honestly drinking these I did not feel like I was missing out on anything as they look so much like a normal beer.
2. Free star – completely gluten and alcohol free. It was nice but I personally found it was lacking full flavour. I would easily drink one or two but it isn’t something I could drink all night at a party.
Top 3 alcohol free ciders:
1. Old Mout Cider – alcohol free berries and cherries flavour. I often order this in the pub if they have it. You can tell it’s alcohol free, however it tastes so fruity and sweet that it doesn’t matter. Plus you don’t feel like the odd one out with a bottle of this on the table.
2. Strongbow ultra low alcohol cider. I used to drink the alcohol version of this, so it’s obviously going to score highly with me. Again can kind of tell it’s not the real thing, but it doesn’t matter because it tastes so good and does have that cider aftertaste. This was my drink of summer 2020.
3.Sheppy’s Low Alcohol classic cider. Not completely alcohol free, but is only 0.5% so good luck getting drunk on them haha. I’ve only had this a couple of times, but if you prefer a more classic cider to a fruit one this is the one for you. Does have that cider taste with only a fraction of the alcohol.
Finally onto the good stuff my top 3 alcohol free gins:
Right these are difficult for me to put in order because some of them are amazing and all for different reasons. Here goes:
1. So there is a tie for joint first because I love both of these gins for completely different reasons.
Gordons alcohol free both smells and tastes exactly like the alcoholic version. This is quite a rare thing to find when looking at alcohol free spirits because though they are full of botanicals there’s always something missing which this one has. Similarity to the real thing.
Seedlip spice 94. This is a favourite for the fact is tastes absolutely amazing with tonic water and a slice of lime. It’s light and fruity and I can have several of these without getting bored of them. However for an alcohol free spirit it comes in at one of the more pricey ones retailing at on average £25 for a bottle.
2. Ceder’s distilled non- alcoholic gin. This is full of your classic gin botanicals so you’ll definitely feel like you’re enjoying your favourite gin without the hangover. On average this is about £20- £25 and stocked in a quite a few of your standard supermarkets.
3. Amplify zing and zest. Another fruity alcohol free alternative that goes great with Mediterranean tonic water. It’s not quite on the same level as the others, but is a little cheaper at £15 a bottle.
Hope this helps you manage your dry January/not drinking a little easier.