Many of us have occasions when we decide to cut down, or take a break from alcohol. This can be for health reasons, having early deadlines to meet, or that we are the designated driver. Much of our socialising has traditionally been constructed around social drinking, and while water and soft drinks are an alternative, some of us just like the taste of alcohol when out.
The practical definition of alcohol-free used by most countries is under 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). The good news is how much easier it is to go alcohol-free, compared even a few years ago. The move to alcohol-free, or low in alcohol drinks for some of our choices, is being firmly embraced and in fact, it is largely consumer driven. As a result, the quality and selection available now has made the choice easier and more appealing.
Removing alcohol while retaining flavour and texture is a challenge, but new strategies for dealcoholizing wine allows the wine to keep more of its wine-like characteristics and help fill the textural hole where the alcohol was. The 'Eins Zwei Zero' alcohol free Riesling, Pinot Noir Rosé (in both still and sparkling), and the Cabernet Sauvignon from award-winning German winemaker Johannes Leitz, uses technology that allows the alcohol to be vacuum-distilled at low temperatures. It is one of the best ranges we have tasted, and offers a real alternative for those occasions when you want to have an alcohol-free option but not compromise on taste and enjoyment.
There are now also many really decent low, and no alcohol beer alternatives available. This is thanks in no small part to our independent craft breweries coming up with some cracking beers that not only fit the alcohol-free bill, but are also great beers in their own right. A few favourites include Dungarvan Brewing Main Sail Pale Ale, Wicklow Wolf Non-Alcoholic Hoppy Ale and Kinnegar Low Tide Pale Ale.
0% Cider also offers a real alternative with Highbank Organic Orchards Driver Cider and Stonewell 0% Alcohol Cider very popular choices. Using a process of reverse osmosis to remove the alcohol from a cider fermented in the usual way, these drinks provide really satisfying alternative to heavily sweetened soft drinks.
Lower alcohol alternatives are also a great choice if one is cutting back. Look out for Killahora Perry 75cl at 6%, and many Pét-Nat (pétillant naturel wines) come in at around 11.5%. Cheers!
All the drinks mentioned are available instore at Ardkeen Quality Food Store and online at ardkeen.com