24 best non-alcoholic wines, beers and drinks to help reduce your alcohol intake
Harper's Bazaar Australia - Credit, Dani Maher
From alcohol-free sparkling wines to refreshing beers and innovative aperitifs.
LET’S FACE IT: Australia is a nation known for its easy-going nature, and its love for “crackin’ open a cold one”.
But more and more as a nation, we’re embracing the “sober-curious” lifestyle — becoming a little more aware of our alcohol intake, as data from the Dry July Foundation suggests. In fact, over the past 15 years, our alcohol consumption has decreased from 10.8 litres each per year to 9.4 litres, the lowest in 50 years.
Being sober-curious — otherwise known as embracing “mindful drinking” or the “damp lifestyle” (more on that below) — isn’t about going full on teetotaller, but rather pausing to reconsider your reasons for drinking, or if every drink needs to be alcoholic. In fact, that last part is getting easier and easier to consider, because in Australia and across the world, a bevy of independent brewers, innovative distillers and well-known winemakers are offering delicious alcohol-free alternatives to wines, beers and spirits that leave you refreshed and satisfied, sans the hangxiety.
Dry July — and its newer counterpart, Ocsober — comes round annually to remind us about the many benefits of cutting back our alcohol intake — but read on to discover why you should consider cutting back every other month of the year too, and the delicious non-alcoholic tipples (wine, beer, spirits, cocktails and more) we recommend sipping on.
What does a damp lifestyle mean?
You may have seen it trending on TikTok, where it’s amassed over 10.6 million views — undertaking a “damp lifestyle” is the hot new thing in the world of drinking. While you may be new to the term, the concept itself isn’t exactly new: It’s simply a reframing of drinking in moderation. Living “damp” means that you aren’t going totally “dry” and cutting out alcohol altogether — instead, you’re choosing to drink mindfully without drinking to excess. It’s certainly a concept to keep in mind around the festive season when it seems we’re facing a barrage of booze-filled party after party.
Some TikTok creators have described it as a good in-between option for those who often feel torn between “going to a bar and blacking out” versus “just staying in”, says creator Hana Elson. Elson also recommends that while you adjust to the damp lifestyle, a good tip is to always have a non-alcoholic drink to hold to make you feel at ease among drinkers, and even avoid any questions or peer pressure. With that in mind, read on for our recommendations of the best non-alcoholic drinks to help you feel like you aren’t missing out on the party at all.
What is a good non-alcoholic option?
Avoiding alcohol doesn’t mean you miss out on all the fun. There’s a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages on offer — in fact, you can find them at supermarkets like Woolworths, liquor stores including Dan Murphy’s, Jimmy Brings, and Boozebud, and designated alcohol-free stores like Sans Drinks.
Non-alcoholic wines — which are often created like regular wines and then de-alcoholised through special processes to remove the alcohol while retaining the flavour — are a popular pick, and a great replacement for your regular glass with dinner. For that happy hour refreshment hit though, you can turn to a crisp alcohol-free beer (seriously, the amount of options from sours to stouts will leave you in awe) or even a non-alcoholic spirit for a tasty mocktail. You can discover our preferred options below.
What are the health benefits of reducing (or eliminating) your alcohol intake?
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, there are plenty of benefits to dialling back your alcohol intake — including:
Better sleep: Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it also surprisingly disrupts your sleep.
More energy: Alcohol is a diuretic — it removes fluid from your body — and one of the symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. More fatigue equals worse sleep, which equals less energy.
More savings: Ever woken up after a night out and cringed at the sight of your bank balance? Us too. In 2020, the average Australian household spent $1,900 per year on alcohol — which is a decent chunk to take out of your savings.
Improved memory and brain function: Even moderate amounts of alcohol can shrink your hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning — but this can reverse within six weeks of cutting out alcohol.
Better immunity: Alcohol reduces immune responses including white blood cell production which we need to fight bacteria and germs.
Improved physical and mental health: Reduced alcohol intake can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, liver disease and cancer. It can also benefit your skin and your fitness goals — and improve the symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety.
FRENCH BLOOM Alcohol Free Organic Sparkling White
David Jones - $56
Opening with a minerality with accents of pear, French Bloom’s sparkling white option — made from a blend of dealcoholised organic French chardonnay grapes — offers dazzling floral bursts with a balance of acidity and depth. It’s a fresh, delightful drop to pop open for your next celebration.
Can zero alcohol beverages get you drunk?
Some alcohol-free and non-alcoholic beverages can still contain up to 0.5 per cent alcohol, but not to worry — it’s nowhere near enough to get you drunk, and it’s about the same amount you’d find in fermented products like kombucha.
Your body will process this amount of alcohol as your drink it, with the average person processing the 0.25 units in a pint of 0.5 per cent beer in about 17 minutes. No worrying about a designated driver, and no more waking up with a hangover — what’s not to love?
What is Ocsober?
Ocsober is an Australian fundraising initiative that, like Dry July, encourages people to give up alcoholic beverages for the month of October each year, in order to raise funds to educate children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Voluntary participants can raise money, which then goes towards Life Education Australia — who you might know as the big brains behind Healthy Harold.
What is the aim of Dry July?
Dry July encourages people to go alcohol-free for the month of July to raise funds for people affected by cancer. Your friends, families and coworkers can sponsor you for your noble efforts, with their donations going towards invaluable services for cancer patients and their families and carers. Having been started by a group of friends in 2008 who wanted to raise money to get a TV for their local hospital’s waiting room, it’s since become a huge movement supporting cancer sufferers and promoting the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake.