Now that I am 464 days without a drink, I have become acutely aware of the fact that the further you get from alcohol, the more your tastes change. I have on occasion taken the teeniest tiniest sip of an alcoholic wine (for taste reference you know…research!) and guess what? It tastes like f**king poison. Never mind the delicate balance of flavours yadda yadda yadda, it tastes like straight up lighter fuel. It blows my mind that I was ever able to tip said poison into my mouth and down my throat so regularly and with such enthusiasm. If If was to ever decide to take up the sport again it would be an EFFORT.
A lot of people report that after quitting drinking they notice a distinct increase in their sense of taste. Food tastes better, more intense. The reason for this? When you consume alcohol you’re not only numbing out to life, you’re numbing those dainty little taste buds with every swig. Those nerve endings are getting constantly smashed and as a result a little bit deadened.
For the strict non-drinker this is great news when it comes to non-alc drinks. The further you get from alcohol, those little taste buds will bursting with energy and life and be ready and raring to go with tasting new and exciting drinks. Even though we all know there are still plenty of dud drinking experiences to be had, you are still primed and ready to experience flavour at it’s purest. I know as a reviewer, my tastes are forever evolving; what I tried a year ago is going to taste a whole lot different to me today. That’s why I am always going back and re-tasting things and updating my reviews.
For those of of you who are still drinking and adding in non-alc in an attempt to drink less, you are going to have to measure your expectations when it comes to alcohol free beverages. A great analogy for this is carob. We all know it’s pretty rank shit right? And if you consume carob as a chocolate lover and regular consumer expecting it to taste like chocolate, you’re be in for a rude shock. Give carob to someone who loves chocolate but they can no longer eat it and haven’t had any for a long time, that carob experience is going to be much more positive! So if you’re currently on a river with one foot on the (alc free)shore and the other foot still in the boozy party boat, keep those little taste buds in mind.
You’re probably going to have most success with non-alc drinks that are fairly robust, fizzy (so the flavour is carried and has body) and maybe even steer clear of drinks that are a direct mimic, go for a total alternative option. Whatever you do, steer clear of the red wines!
Here are my top 5 picks that should do the job!
The Alternate: Non 7 Stewed Cherry & Coffee packs a flavour punch that would stop anyone in their tracks. I haven’t officially reviewed it yet, but that’s not far off. There is nothing to not love about this drinks, it is rich, moreish and as flavourful as it is unique.
The Bubbles: You all know I love my Noughty, but I think if we’re looking for something with intensity to get my sober curious friends over the line, I think Vinada actually has a more intense, slightly heavier flavour. It should do the trick.
The Spirit: If you can go in with an open mind and not expect a straight up gin replacement, Ovant Grace mixed simply with a good tonic (no Schweppes ploise)should stop you dead in your tracks. Its unique and aromatic and oh it’s so good.
The Beer: So hard to choose just one here. My go to is Heaps Normal it’s really up there in terms of flavour and a full mouth feel, but there is also not to be missed the new popular kid Bridge Road Freetime Pale Ale, this one is a party in your mouth.
The Spritz: You can’t miss with a Wilfred’s Spritz. Delicious with tonic or to gussy up a sub-par sparkling, this is alive with citrus, clove and rosemary.