Non-alcoholic Beverages

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Related page: Drinking Alcohol during Pregnancy

June 2002

Hello, Now with summer here, I would like to be productive after dinner and find that my typical glass of wine or beer dulls my senses enough to discourage any productivity. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives that have a bit of a zing? Is there anything out there that cleanses the palate like wine? Is there anything out there that tastes ''full'' without being alcoholic? thank you in advance

Cranberry juice is a good food beverage. Look for the tart version sold by Trader Joe as frozen concentrate. (The over-sweetened supermarket stuff has very little cranberry flavor and lacks the acidity to pair well with adult food.) Sour cherry juice also works (look for it in Middle Eastern Markets -- for instance Zand on Solano). But if there's no compelling medical reason to quit your glass-a-day habit, why not have coffee or tea in the late afternoon? It'll kick in after 3-4 hours -- just in time to keep you in the game after dinner. George

Instead of Beer try Reed's Extra Ginger Brew. It's dry, not super sweet, not like a ginger ale. No alcohol but it is fresh and has the right level of bubbles. Available at Andronico's. Nancy

When I was pregnant, I found a number of things I liked having with dinner instead of alcohol. My mainstay was sparkling water, often with lemon, orange, or lime slices, sometimes with a SMALL splash of cranberry juice (I don't like sweet drinks with food) or tonic water. At other times, I liked sparkling cider (there are better ones than Martinelli's out there -- try Sonoma Sparkler if you can find it -- maybe Beverages & More), or ginger ale (again, something a little zingier than Canada Dry works well -- there are lots of them). If there's any kind of tea you like, you could use it to make iced tea; this works well with herbal teas as well as with the caffeinated varieties. Excellent if it's been a hot day. If all else fails, some nonalcoholic beers are OK. The nonalcoholic wines are pretty much uniformly terrible. Karen

I have a few friends who switched to lemonade and green tea iced tea instead of alcohol, but that is too sweet for me. I like green tea with meals instead of wine. It's not too sweet and seems to enhance the flavors of the food. I've been slicing lemons and cukecumbers and putting them in a pitcher with water. This by itself is very refreshing when it's hot, but I mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with cranberry juice which adds some zing and more body. You can refill the pitcher with water a few times before the produce wears out. You could also do this with other kinds of fruit. Iced tea mixed with some fruit juice is great, I like mint and cranberry or black tea, lemon and apple juice or lemonade. Lastly, liquados; mix milk (or soy milk), ice and fruit in the blender to make a great drink. Bananas and pineapples are my fruit of choice, but berries are good and I'm sure any kind of fruit would be as well. This is not a smoothie, it shouldn't be too thick or it is more like a meal. My husband adds sugar, but I like just the sweetness from the fruit.... I'm a big tea drinker so I drink that a lot, but iced coffee or iced decaf coffee may be just the thing for you... Hope you find something you enjoy! Natalie

Several of the non-alcoholic beers are pretty good, particularly the German ones: Clausthaler, Haake-Beck, St. Pauli Girl. Kathy

In general, I'm not a fan of non-alcoholic beers, but there is one that I've found really tastes good and replicates the beer experience pretty closely -- it's called Kaliber and it's made by Guinness. It's sort of dark amber, and quite tasty. It does have trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to make me feel woozy, and I'm definitely a lightweight. I'm still nursing, but I feel okay about drinking it even before the night nursing. Another, totally non-alcoholic splurge is Navarro Vineyards' grape juice -- they make it from their pinot noir or gewurtztraminer grapes, and it's absolutely delicious, not nearly as sweet as commercial grape juice or concord grape juice. A friend of mine whose mother and sister have struggled with alcoholism always brings a bottle of each kind of Navarro juice to Thanksgiving -- and he's a major wine snob. They're on line at; I think that you can only buy the juice directly from them. I've never seen it in a store (though I noticed it on the menu at Ginger Island in Berkeley the other day). AKS

Another possibility is to cut your liquor consumption to less than a standard drink. A six-ounce glass of porter or stout (served tepid or cool, as opposed to cold) is very rich and satisfying and pretty good for you as well, being full of B vitamins. And summer is a good time for white wine spritzers, or a small glass of white wine with fruit for dessert. Melanie

Navarro Winery makes two very good unfermented grape juices--one a Gewurztraminer, the other a Pinot Noir. They are sweeter than wine (though not so sweet and cloying as Welches) and so need to be matched to food a little differently. However, you can make a very nice spritzer with 1/2 juice-1/2 sparkling water that is not so sweet, and wonderfully refreshing and good with foods. It also helps the somewhat expensive juice last a little longer. You might also try plain sparking water, lemonade, apple cider, and ice tea, depending on the dish. Carolyn

During my second pregnancy I discovered a delicious, grown-up alternative to wine - a close relative: Navarro's Gewurtraminer and Pinot Noir grape juices. These are full of flavor and good mouth feel, and are also very, very yummy when you do a 50/50 mix with a good sparkling water. North Berkeley Wine usually carries them, and you can order by the case (for a discount) from Navarro Vineyards. Natasha