What does alcohol-free or non-alcoholic mean?
Under current food law, all products with a maximum total alcohol content of 0.5% by volume may call themselves alcohol-free. In Germany, non-alcoholic beverages are considered foodstuffs and are subject to these regulations.
But beware: beverages (and foods as a whole) that are not labeled alcohol-free may even contain up to 1.2% vol. and are only subject to declaration above this limit. Note also that alcohol is often used as a preservative in industrially produced foods.
At the Mindful Drinking Club you will find alcohol-free alternatives between 0.0% vol. and a maximum of 0.5% vol., and we can give you exact information about most of our products. Why only most? Some fruit juices or vinegar based drinks are not precisely declared by the producer, their alcohol content is therefore marked as not specified. Please also see Why do some non-alcoholic alternatives still contain alcohol? for further information.
What alcohol-free alternatives are there?
An overview of the diverse product categories of non-alcoholic alternatives:
- Alcohol-free beer
- Alcohol-free wine and sparkling wine
- Non-alcoholic alternatives to spirits (e.g. non-alcoholic gin, non-alcoholic rum or non-alcoholic Aperol)
- Non-alcoholic aperitif
- Wine alternatives or Wine Proxies (not equal to non-alcoholic wine)
- Sparkling Tea
- Shrubs & Oxymels (vinegar-based drinks to mix with water)
- Adaptogenic Drinks
- Kombucha and other fermented drinks, e.g. water kefir or kvass
- Verjus (juice or condiment made from unripe grapes)
- High quality fruit juices and fruit sparkling wines
- Sodas & Tonics
- Non-alcoholic Bitters
You can find most of them here at The Mindful Drinking Club!
How do I find the right drink for me?
Fortunately, tastes are different and, of course, not every drink suits every person, and certainly not every occasion. And we also know that with the abundance of categories and alternatives in our selection, it can be quite tricky to find your way around and keep track of everything. That’s why we try to give you an idea of the respective product with the descriptions in our online store, declare the actual alcohol content as well as allergens and additives as good as possible (according to the manufacturer’s specifications), and are happy to advise you personally in our store. There you can also always try a small, changing selection while you’re there. Just ask us directly what is available for tasting on the day of your visit, or book a private tasting with us at Prenzlauer Allee.
We are also happy to advise you on the corresponding drinks for your next dinner, the upcoming summer party, your wedding or a corpoate event. Make your next event inclusive for everyone - with a great and mindful alcohol-free selection!
Why do some non-alcoholic alternatives still contain alcohol?
In general: Alcohol is produced during the alcoholic fermentation of sugary or starchy substances by yeasts and/or bacteria and is a natural process that often occurs simultaneously with other fermentation processes (such as lactofermentation or lactic acid fermentation). Thus, quite a few foods in our daily diet naturally contain small amounts of alcohol, here are a few examples:
|Fully ripe banana
|up to 0.6% vol.
|up to 0.5% vol
|up to 1% vol.
The most common reason for a low alcohol content in products from our portfolio also is natural fermentation, i.e. fermentation with various starter cultures such as certain yeasts, a kombucha culture or water kefir crystals, e.g. in fermented wine alternatives, non-alcoholic beers or kombucha.
Some alternatives to spirits and wine alternatives use single alcohol-based extracts that transport flavor and aroma very well and also provide the products with a more stable shelf life. For some producers, this alcohol-based extraction is an important tool to create a product according to their ideas. Of course, these products also contain a maximum of 0.5% alcohol by volume.
What is residual alcohol?
The term “residual alcohol” is often used in connection with non-alcoholic beverages, but this is only partly true. The term residual alcohol implies that a product originally had a higher alcohol content, and that this was reduced with the help of a certain process (e.g. vacuum distillation or a further, non-alcoholic fermentation).
Residual alcohol is contained in vinegar, for example, for which vinegar bacteria convert the alcohol from wine, cider or sherry, for example, into acetic acid. The residual alcohol contained in vinegar is considered harmless to health, especially since vinegar itself is generally consumed only in small quantities as an ingredient in beverages.
But residual alcohol can also remain in some dealcoholized products such as non-alcoholic beers or alternatives to spirits, which is declared in each case. In our selection, we rely for the most part on products that do not result from de-alcoholization.
How healthy are non-alcoholic alternatives?
As a general rule, a drink that does not contain alcohol is always better for our bodies than a drink containing alcohol.
But of course, alcohol-free alternatives are not automatically healthy. We consider most of our products to be purely stimulants or luxury foods, and any stimulant or luxury food should, in our eyes, be enjoyed in moderation and mindfully. The best thirst quencher is and remains water!
Non-alcoholic beverages are considered foodstuffs and must clearly declare their ingredients and nutritional values as well as special ingredients accordingly. This often leads to irritation, especially when it comes to sugar content, because non-alcoholic alternatives to popular bitter liqueurs such as Aperol or Campari are perceived as being particularly rich in content, but in fact contain significantly less sugar in some cases.
Here’s a few alternatives to the popular Spritz compared to their alcoholic model:
|674 kJ / 161 kcal
|Polly Italian Aperitif
|268kJ / 63 kcal
|365kJ / 87kcal
|Dr. Jaglas Herber Hibiscus
|256 kJ / 60 kcal
(data per 100ml)
Mindful Drinking is the magic word, and by that we don’t mean chucking down gallons of non-alcoholic alternatives in full consciousness.
Non-alcoholic during pregnancy and lactation.
Alcohol content One thing is clear: wine & co. are taboo during pregnancy and shouldn’t be consumed during breastfeeding either! But what about alcohol-free alternatives such certain wine alternatives or alcohol-free beer that contain a small amount of alcohol? Opinions differ on this, and in our experience, there are many different views on whether a non-alcoholic beer or glass of kombucha now and then is okay during pregnancy. According to Charité, a slowly enjoyed non-alcoholic beer should be unthinkable, but just in moderation and not every day. We can’t and don’t want to pass judgment on which drinks our pregnant and breastfeeding customers think are safe, and that’s also why we have a suitable alternative ready for almost every decision.
Quinine A few products in our range contain quinine, a substance from the cinchona bark, which is contained in almost every tonic and is avoided by many pregnant women. Therefore, you can find a quinine-free tonic and other great mixers without quinine in our selection.
Caffeine or Teein Caffeine and teein are actually chemically identical substances that have a stimulating effect on the body and should only be consumed in moderation during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, a cup of coffee is just as safe as a glass of Sparkling Tea, it’s the dose that counts.
Potassium sorbate (E202) A preservative often used in alternatives to spirits, and one we are asked about from time to time. We are not aware of any studies on the safety of potassium sorbate during pregnancy.
Important: We are not medical professionals and cannot take responsibility for the purchasing and consumption decisions of pregnant customers. We advise you to the best of our knowledge and belief, in case of doubt we always advise you to consult the attending physician!
Are all non-alcoholic alternatives suitable for people with alcohol use disorders?
One important thing beforehand: We are not talking about alcoholics (m/f/d), but about people with addiction disorders (substance alcohol). Alcohol dependency is a complicated disease, which we also take seriously and recognize as such.
For people with a dependency disorder, there are very different triggers, each quite personal, i.e. triggers for the craving for alcohol (addictive pressure) or a potential relapse, in which the person affected cannot or can only with difficulty stop drinking alcohol. While for some people affected by alcohol use disorder the familiar taste, as with non-alcoholic beer or wine, can become a danger, others describe even a very small amount of alcohol in a drink as problematic. Just as well, however, neither may be a problem for a person with a dependency disorder.
When giving gifts to people about whose medical history you know little or nothing, we therefore recommend a range of products that pose no obvious dangers one way or the other. Again, however, we would like to point out that we cannot make any guarantees. If you can, talk to the person concerned and try to find out what might be suitable for him or her.
If you are concerned about your own alcohol use or that of someone close to you, please contact a professional counseling center, attend a support group, or talk openly with a trusted person.