There are a lot of non-alcoholic beer, wines, ciders, and spirits on the market at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing – especially given that not too long ago your non-alcoholic options when you went to a bar were a $17 mocktail that’s basically expensive juice, a soft drink or “I dunno, we have water I guess?”
But the extensive and ever-expanding range can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know which ones are any good.
Enter myself, Shaeden, and my two volunteer taste testers – Kat and Jess. Whilst I am sober, Kat and Jess still drink alcohol, but were happy to forgo the burn of the booze for the day to help me out. We taste-tasted and reviewed five different non-alcoholic drinks, each chosen at random by me from the bottle-shop and local markets. I avoided non-alcoholic beers, as I feel that most sober people have already tried those and might be hankering for some variety!
Here's our reviews:**
1. Hills Non-Alcoholic Apple Cider
First on the menu was Hills Non-Alcoholic Apple Cider. As a big cider fan in my drinking days, I was excited to taste this one. I also hadn’t seen non-alcoholic cider before; however, as we took our first sips, it became apparently there might be a reason for this:
Shaeden - This tastes like something I would have with breakfast. It’s so sweet! This is literally just expensive, sparkling apple juice.
Jess – It’s lacking a sour edge; I think if they’d added a bit of sourness, it would make it taste a little more like actual cider. There’s 45grams of sugar in it… no wonder it’s so sweet.
Kat – It reminds me of what we drink in Germany during the fall. I think it’s nice!
The consensus? A little bit too sweet for all of us. I could hardly finish one bottle without feeling a little sickly at the saccharine taste and couldn’t imagine taking a six pack to drink at a barbeque somewhere. Jess suggested it would taste nice with some vodka in it, but I reminded her that would defeat the purpose.
Overall – 3/5 stars.
2. Clean and Healthy Living Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc Wine
The next on the list was Clean and Healthy Living Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc Wine. I’ve tried the Merlot version of this brand before and was extremely impressed with how closely it resembled actual wine, complete with that dry mouth feel afterwards, so I was eager to see if the white wine was similarly of a high standard.
Shaeden – Very light, very crisp. This genuinely reminds me of drinking an actual glass of wine to the point where I’m slightly concerned and want to keep checking the label to reassure myself that yep, its alcohol free. Definitely can see myself drinking this in summer.
Jess – I can taste a little more sweetness than alcoholic white wine, and there is a bit of a weird after-taste. But it’s very light; it’s almost like water going down. This would make a nice base for a non-alcoholic sangria.
Kat – It’s very easy to drink, I could see a few glasses going down easily. I like it; you can’t really tell its non-alcoholic at all.
Our review? Light, easy to drink, with a perfect hint of dryness (which is not easy to get with alcohol-free wines, which can tend towards being extremely sweet). A definite recommend for when the weather heats up.
Overall – 4.5/5
3. Natureo Grenache Shiraz 2020
Continuing with the wines, the next up was Natureo Shiraz. Red wine was another of my favourites when I was drinking, but I’ve found that most alcohol-free red wines taste like warm Ribena. I’ve seen this brand around the place quite a lot, so I was excited to try it out. Unfortunately, the results were not good.
Shaeden – It tastes like nothing. I can’t taste a thing. I’d ask if this was water dyed red, but I feel like water has more flavour than this.
Jess – It smells like berries, but it tastes like vinegar. Maybe if you created a mulled wine with it and added orange juice and spices it might be okay?
Kat – This is just vinegar, right? You’re pranking us and just poured vinegar into the glass?
The consensus was not good. Unfortunately, in this instance, none of us could finish the glass we poured. Whilst I could taste nothing, the other two seemed to agree the flavour was a distinctly unpalatable vinegary one.
4. Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Amaretti
It was time for the one that, I won’t lie, we were all looking forward to. There was something about the golden liquid in the bottle that seemed so damn appealing. When we popped the lid, we were greeted with a delicious marzipan smell. We decided on the rocks was the way to go to try this one.
Shaeden – This reminds me of dessert wine! Tastes almost a bit like caramel as well. It’s odd though; I keep expecting the burn of alcohol with it and I feel like I almost miss it. I expected this to warm me from the inside but it’s like it doesn’t quite hit the spot.
Jess – I think it’s the texture; it’s quite watery and thin and you expect from looking at it that it might be thick or syrupy. It doesn’t taste distilled, or even like a “fake spirit.” I would drink it, but I think in maybe a cocktail or something.
Kat – Add it to hot apple juice! It would taste like the perfect fall drink, I think. It reminds me of drinks in Germany. It is a bit thin, but it’s tasty. I love it.
The sweetness wasn’t imagined by us; there is about a teaspoon of sugar per serving, so it’s not the healthiest of options. The consensus seemed to be that it might be a good base for a night-cap drink on a winter’s night. The almost “dessert-like” taste made it feel like it would be more of a “sometimes treat” sort of drink, and not something you’d reach for regularly or bring as your own non-alcoholic drink for an event.
Overall – 4/5
5. Seedlip Grove Non-Alcoholic Spirit (Citrus)
The final drink was another spirit, but we mixed this one with tonic water for our taste-test. The product is described as having blood-orange undertones, with a ginger and lemongrass finish. I’ve had non-alcoholic gin and tonics before, usually of the premade variety, so I was interested to see how the spirit measured up.
Shaeden – It tastes just like a gin and tonic. The flavour is subtle though; I can tell there’s a hint of something else aside from just tonic water, but it’s not particularly strong.
Jess – I can taste the citrus, but you’re right, it’s not very strong. The smell from the bottle reminds me of an alcoholic spirit so I did think it would be more powerful. I can tell I’m drinking something more than tonic at least.
Kat – I’m picking up on elderflower? Am I just imagining that? I wonder if we’d had it with soda water if we’d be able to taste it more?
With the consensus seeming to be that none of us could really taste the flavour too strongly, a suggestion was jokingly made for someone to take a shot of it. I’m nothing if not committed when it comes to an article, so I volunteered myself, with Jess photographing and nicely capturing the point afterwards where I stared into the void regretting my decision.
It wasn’t bad – especially as my body had been braced for the burn of alcohol, which obviously didn’t come. But it did taste distinctly earthy – in fact, the ineloquent “grassy” came out in the immediate aftermath, which I didn’t think sounded as good, but I looked up the product on the website and lo and behold; “a stalky, grassy character.” Perhaps I do have a career in non-alcoholic taste testing after all.
Despite the subtleness of the flavour, it wasn’t a bad-tasting drink, and I could see it being quite versatile for making cocktails.
Overall – 3.5/5
So, there you have it folks, a little breakdown of some of the non-alcoholic drinks on the market. Bear in mind these are our opinions only, but hopefully this helps you with choosing a few for yourself and maybe encourages you to try a few new ones too!
Cheers and happy (alcohol-free) drinking!
**Disclaimer – some non-alcoholic drinks still contain 0.5% alcohol – this is due to the fermentation process. I’ve done my own research into this, including into several studies that have looked at the levels of naturally occurring alcoholic content in everyday food items, and have concluded that, for myself, I am okay with drinking non-alcoholic drinks containing less than 0.5% alcohol. However, I recognise not everyone is okay with this, so please use your own discretion)
For more from Shaeden Berry, you can find her on Instagram @berrywellthanks