Sober October drinks guide – guilt-free zing for Spring

With another themed month of sobriety upon us, it’s time to cast a Dry Eye over the latest NoLo (no alcohol/low alcohol) drinks popping up in bars, bottle shops and supermarkets. From wines to spirits, mocktails and wonderful botanical concoctions, there’s a huge variety of interesting, “grown-up” flavours around today to wet your (sober) whistle.

Giesen 0% alcohol wines

First off the rank is Kiwi brand Giesen, who make a range of 0% alcohol wines*. Sav Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rosé and Merlot are made just like their full-strength counterparts, but with the alcohol gently removed with spinning cone technology. As well as letting you keep a clear head, it’s 70-80% fewer calories than a full strength wine.

As a year-round, lifelong non-drinker, I’ve sampled more than a few zero alcohol wines and in the past, they weren’t great. But this Sauvignon Blanc is light and lemony and a real thirst quencher. I tested it out on an actual drinker who also gave it the thumbs up. I tried it non-chilled (because I was impatient) and later chilled, and both glasses were beautiful.

Giesen’s 0% Rosé – dry and delicious

Perhaps even more delicious is the Rosé: slightly rounder and fruitier, but still with a gently dry tone. That’s the thing with non-alcoholic drinks, until recently they tended to be sickly sweet options like coke and orange juice. But these wines show that you can make an alcohol-free drink that doesn’t give you diabetes after half a glass.

NON botanical wine alternatives

We sampled NON for our Winter Warmers Guide and loved the creative, botanical-based flavours such as Salted Raspberry and Toasted Cinnamon. NON’s aim is not to imitate wine, but to focus on create something entirely by curating new and interesting flavours. They’ve added even more fascinating combinations to their range: how about Caramelised Pear & Kombu, Roast Beetroot & Sansho or Lemon Marmalade & Hibiscus?

  • NON2: Caramelised Pear & Kombu – a light pear fizz with subtle chai spice flavour, not too sweet, a taste and aroma intriguingly reminiscent of orgeat – an absolute winner. Complex without being cluttered. My favourite of these latest four!
  • NON4: Roast Beetroot & Sansho – a rich but not overpowering warm beetroot roundess settles to a gently spicy back-of-throat kick from the jalapeno and sansho pepper. Lightly sweet and fruity – not at all a savoury drink
  • NON5: Lemon Marmalade & Hibiscus – very lemony, tart and fragrant fizz with aromatic verbena and lemongrass, the tiniest hint of liquorice and mint emerge – it’s like drinking a lemony summer garden. There is the roundness of marmalade but in a very dry/sec way – it’s sweet but only lightly so
  • NON6: Tomato Water & Basil – very vegetal – also the only still/non-sparkler of the bunch – like a tangy tomato consommé with plenty of celery. I’d possibly try this as a cooking “wine” to flavour gazpacho. It might also be a good one for Bloody Mary fans served with a dash of 0% alcohol vodka
Seven stellar, sober sippers from NON

Shine energy drink

Next off the block in a surge of brilliant yellow foaming fizz is Shine, Australia’s first natural nootropic energy drink. Flavours include Blueberry Lemonade and Peach Passionfruit. I had to google “What is a nootropic?” and according to Wikipedia it’s a substance claimed to “improve cognitive function or to promote relaxation, particularly boosting mood, executive functions, attention, memory, creativity, or motivation in healthy individuals”.

Shine’s nootropics include a lovely list of natural ingredients: green coffee beans, green tea, L-theanine, turmeric and gingko bilboa. The turmeric is what gives Shine its dazzling golden hue, but take care if you’re wearing white. Its frothy exuberance as it bubbles out of the can may mean a mad dash for a sink and a cloth.

Both flavours we tried are sunny and bright and super-sweet, despite being ultra low calories. You can thank stevia and erythritol for that. Try Shine with a zero alcohol vodka for a citrusy, tangy alternative to a Red Bull cocktail.

Sweet sunshine ready to burst from the can

*just a quick note, many “zero alcohol” beers and wines contain 0.5% alcohol – though this is actually less than many fruit juices naturally contain.

About the author

Lisa Creffield is a Sydney-based writer originally from the UK. Years of horrifying English school dinners sparked a desire to find something more delicious. Having also lived for six years in the Middle East, Lisa loves discovering new and exciting places and cuisines, from manti in Kazakhstan to sea urchin in Shanghai.


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