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 When you want to avoid alcohol  


December 2017

couple drinking wine

It is not easy giving up drink. Dry January is just around the corner when many people decide to give up alcohol either for charity reasons or to clear their systems after a month of mid-winter festivities.

But as we age, our tolerance of alcohol can diminish. For health and other reasons, increasingly we will find that some of our friends and colleagues have given up drinking alcohol on a permanent basis.

This is far more common and indeed acceptable today than it was a generation ago, and in pubs, restaurants and often at people’s homes, there will be a selection of non alcoholic drinks to choose from.

In the past you had to search on line for alcohol free wines, beers and cocktails. But today most good supermarkets will offer a range...although they can sometimes be hard to find among the huge selection of bottles and cans available in the drinks section.

Non alcoholic drinks have come a long way from when the first rather flavourless thin beverages were introduced into the marketplace.

Non-alcoholic wines for instance are today made and sold with the same attention to detail and loving care as a year’s top vintage. Non-alcoholic beers are made with the same dedication as the best beers from a boutique brewery. Because most of the flavours and colouring comes from the traditional sources of grapes for wine and grain for beer, the taste, colour and feel of the drinks really is very similar to their traditional alcoholic counterparts.

Many non-alcoholic drinks are based on the traditional alcoholic version but simply have alcohol taken out.  This is not as difficult as it sounds and there are different ways this can be achieved. 

One way is by vacuum distillation, when the wine or beer is made normally and then put into a vacuum. The liquid can then be gently heated but because of the change in atmospheric pressure, it boils at a much lower temperature than normal. This way the alcohol can be distilled off without affecting the colour or intricate flavour of the wine or beer.

Another way is by reverse osmosis and doesn’t require any heating. The wine or beer is pressure directed along a special filter or membrane with small pores that allow just the alcohol, water and a few volatile acids to pass through. The wine or beer is then filtered and is rehydrated either with the water mix which has had the alcohol removed by conventional distillation methods, or with fresh pure water. Either way, the results are usually very good indeed and retain the bouquet and complex depth of flavours of regular fermented wine or beer but without the alcohol.

Be aware though that some de-alcoholised wines can still retain a minute level of alcohol - usually less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, but if someone is avoiding alcohol because of their religion or because of an allergic reaction rather than just to avoid the normal effects from alcoholic drinks, care needs to be taken.

The range today of de-alcoholised and non-alcohol wines and beers is extensive and covers all types of wine from reds and white to champagnes and rose and all types of beers from bitter and pale ales to lagers.

There is a host of information on the website, including sites offering a range of non-alcoholic drinks for deliveyr:


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