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Taste test: Non-alcoholic drinks


We put a selection of alcohol-free wine, beer and cider to the test to see if they are viable alternatives.

Basket of alcohol

The "Dry January" booze ban has grown in popularity in recent years as a way of raising money for charity while saving Brits money on alcohol, as well as the health benefits.

So, for those who want to keep up the good work once January is over, we took up an offer by The Alcohol Free Shop to put its non-alcoholic range of wine, beer and cider to the test.

Here is what the team thought of the range of beverages on offer.

Alcohol-free taste test: Red wine

red wine

Eminasin Doce Meses - made from Tempranillo grapes and aged in American oak barrels for 12 months.

Owain Carter, content and social producer, says: 

"I think alcohol-free red wine is one of the most difficult to get right, so I wasn't expecting much. 

It smells vinegary, so I prepared myself for it to be quite tart, but instead it was quite sweet and fruity. 

It tastes about halfway between a proper wine and a grape juice. I drank most of the bottle in one evening, and did enjoy it." Score: 3/5

Weinkonig Merlot - a de-alcoholised dry red wine made from 100% Merlot grapes.

Fiona Creedon, head of advertising, says: 

"I was enthused by the prospect of drinking wine and not having a hangover, but unfortunately it was really acidic and didn't taste nice. 

After a few sips I gave up! Taste aside, it lacked the substance and depth of a normal glass of merlot. It's not something that I will be drinking in the future." Score: 1.5/5

Alcohol-free taste test: White wines

white wine

Weinkonig Riesling - a de-alcoholised dry white from Rheinhessen in Germany.

Naphtalia Loderick, content editor, says: 

"I was hoping for great things as it looked good in a wine glass but unfortunately it disappointed from the very first sip. 

It tasted like a flat version of Schloer white grape - the sparkling juice drink. It was very sweet and tangy, not at all like a medium/dry white wine." Score: 1/5

Romance en Blanc Organic White - a de-alcoholised organic dry white wine with a blend of Sauvignon blanc & Sémillon grapes, from Bordeaux, France.

Dave Sheldon, online marketing executive, says: 

"It gave me the same impression I get when opening a carton of fruit juice, a mixture of fresh apple and white grape aromas. 

As for the taste all I can say is that, if I hadn't poured it out of a wine bottle I would not have known it was wine."  Score: 1/5

Alcohol-free taste test: Beers


Clausthaler Premium Alcohol-Free Lager - the most popular alcohol-free brand in Europe and won the World's Best Alcohol-Free Beer award 2013.

David Rendell, digital marketing executive, says: 

"I really liked this beer and I thought it didn’t lose any of the taste from being alcohol-free. 

It is quite sharp and there is a small difference in the aftertaste from a real beer, but I would happily pay for it in a bar."  Score: 4.5/5

Cheers Alcohol-Free Beer - this brand launched in December 1992 and is now the leading brand of alcohol-free beer in Portugal.

Adam Jolley, content writer, says: 

"I thought it tasted good. I couldn't tell much of a difference between this and an alcoholic beer in terms of taste. 

It satisfied the craving for the taste of a beer, but the only difference was that you didn't quite get the relaxing effect of an alcoholic drink. 

I would be happy to drink it in the future at home, but I don't think I'd order one at the pub."  Score: 4/5

Erdinger Weissbrau Alkoholfrei - an alcohol-free wheat beer free of chemical additives and brewed using water, malt, hops and yeast.

Adam Davies, advertising executive, says: 

"It was tasty enough, similar enough to the alcoholic version, but it just lacked the bite that you expect from a beer. 

It also left a curious aftertaste, almost like it was out of date. I wouldn’t drink it again."  Score: 2/5

Alcohol-free taste test: Cider


Stowford Press 0.5% low alcohol cider - contains no artificial colouring, flavouring or sweetening and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Naphtalia Loderick, content editor, says: 

"I really liked this drink. It tasted just like the real thing and I would happily drink it again."  Score: 5/5

Alcohol-free taste test: Summary

It seems that alcohol-free red wine is preferable to white, non-alcoholic beer is worthwhile and cider is excellent. With this knowledge in mind, maybe dry January is much more achievable.


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