Its 5pm on a Friday night and you are getting ready to go out with friends… however, you are the nominated driver for the evening. You stop at your local drink shop and the non-alcoholic offerings are pretty slim – either fruit juices, fizzy drinks or flavoured waters, so you find it hard to be enthused. Fast forward to 2021 and the bar has been raised. Whether you are looking at non-alcoholic wine, gin or just awesome 0% products that are totally unique, they aren’t just for non-drinking friends or pregnant friends, they are there for all of us who have a discerning palate and enjoy a nice glass of something.
Jukes Cordialities are one of the key players in raising the ‘zero to hero’ bar. Matthew Jukes, the brainchild behind Jukes who is an awesome wine writer based in the UK, embarked on an idea of making a non-alcoholic drink a couple of years ago. He has perfected a range of drinks made from natural ingredients that do everything that a wine does on the nose, palate and finish but without any grapes or alcohol. When we first sampled the products at Vineyards, we were fighting over which styles of wine they reminded us of; Viognier and Bardolino were mentioned more than once. Very low on calories and all you need to do is add chilled water (still or sparkling) or tonic water. They have really made us sit up and take notice of the alternatives out there. £4 per 30ml bottle (makes 2/3 drinks depending on taste preference.)
Conker distillery, who most of you will know produce a fantastic Dorset gin, have made Bowser Leaf. Derived entirely from the spring water distillation of five botanicals, including mint, tarragon, thyme and basil, it’s a non-alcoholic spirit drink that really delivers on flavour. It is a deliciously refreshing alternative which has been flying out of our shop since its launch at the start of this year. £20 per 70cl bottle.
Rivani who produce some of our amazing Italian sparkling wines have made a de-alcoholised wine made from the Macabeo grape. Fruit driven and a really refreshing alternative to the alcoholic versions. Customers have added a very small amount of fruit cordials to make an alternative to a Kir Royale. £7 per bottle.
There’s a whole multitude of reasons as to why you might be drinking zero and we are delighted to see this sector pushing forward and becoming more interesting for those of us who enjoy the flavour of a great tipple, but sometimes want a night off. Yes, you heard it here first – even the most seasoned merchant has a night or two zero. All things are best when savoured in moderation and zero is fast becoming the new hero.
By: Hannah Wilkins, Indie Wine Merchant, Vineyards of Sherborne