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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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
Several of the non-alcoholic beers are pretty good, particularly
the German ones: Clausthaler, Haake-Beck, St. Pauli Girl.
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 www.navarrowine.com; 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
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.
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.
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
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