Wednesday, January 20

Picking the Harvest of Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages for Dry January | Fiona Beckett on wine | Food

AAsking someone how they are doing right now is a case of: “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?“It’s hard to think of a less auspicious start to the year, so I could understand if dry January was too daunting to contemplate. It certainly is for me, although fortunately I have the excuse of daily work.

Others, however, are more moderate if new year’s trend reports They are anything to go by, with the continued rise and fall of nolo (no alcohol and low alcohol) that seems like a constant feature of 2021. Certainly, the innovation rate is impressive, even if not everyone makes the grade. Startups, in particular, are struggling to identify the complex mix of botanical ingredients needed to make alcohol-free spirits more interesting than tap water. Even the professionals. SipsmithFor example, they have delayed the release of their long-awaited alcohol-free FreeGlider because they are still not happy with it, despite having spent two years fine-tuning it. (I thought the prototype, version 186, which I tested, was excellent, but they are still not satisfied.) And if you’re charging the same price as a bottle of undiluted gin, you should be right.

Even if you started out with the best of intentions, not drinking for a whole month is a difficult task, especially when the news is relentlessly discouraging. The answer, as with a diet, is to have the right kinds of drinks on hand. If you’re a beer drinker, you’re in luck, because the non-alcoholic versions are better than most, although I’m not sure Guinness fans are totally sold on the 0.0% version. There are some good IPAs too, like Lervig’s No Worries alcohol-free IPA (£ 1.85 for 330ml Hop Burns Black and Bristol’s Best Food Company) and the insane but glorious Big Drop Brewing Co Kinzig Gateau Stout on today’s panel below.

And hallelujah! – I found a trio of substitutes for sparkling wine: Stippl, which is the first wine-like product I’ve actually rated (though I like the sweetest rosé the least), a new range of sparkling teas from Saicho which are designed to accompany food (hojicha, which tastes like toasted rice, is my favorite, but jasmine is good too) and a sweet French gamay and grape juice that you will love if you like natural wine. Stippl has coined the clever catchphrase, “Not boring, just sober,” which is a good answer whenever you are asked why you don’t drink. Good luck to all of you!

Five of the best bottles for when you’re not drinking

Sparkling Stippl

Sparkling Stippl € 19.99 a pack of 6 bottles of 20cl. Attractive fresh and citrusy, this is no different than a sparkling sauvignon blanc, unsurprisingly, given that it is based on sauvignon blanc grape juice concentrate. However, surprisingly not too sweet.

Saicho Hojicha sparkling tea

Saicho Hojicha sparkling tea £ 7.99 for 500ml. Another good alternative to effervescent, is based on roasted Japanese green tea. Curiously crazy. Try it with sushi or Middle Eastern meze.

Big Drop Co Kinzig Gateau Stout Beer Copy

Big Drop Brewing Co Kinzig Gateau Stout £ 9.80 for 4 440ml cans, £ 4.25 a can Beercraft of Bath, 0.5%. Chocolate and. Cherry-ish. Black forest cake shades. Nothing like a conventional beer, but does that matter? Not if you want to have a little fun.

Rapscallion soda C 02 burnt lemon

Rapscallion Soda C02 Burnt Lemon £ 29 for 12 250ml cans. I loved this brilliantly spicy lemon drink. “Think lemon meringue pie without the mountain of sugar,” they say. And they are right. The cranachan (raspberry and toasted oatmeal) is fabulous too. A soda with attitude.

L'Antidote Domaine des Grottes

L’Antidote Domaine des Grottes € 13.50 Wright wine, £ 13 Noble fine liquor. Gloriously effervescent alcohol-free grape made with gamay juice enriched with herbs and spices. A sweet touch for me, so I found it benefited from a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It looks like you are drinking natural wine.

Fiona Beckett is the author of How to Drink Without Drinking (Octopus, £ 15.99). To order a copy for £ 13.91, go to

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