There are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages to pair with cheese, whether you’re experimenting with Dry January, serving sober guests, or simply don’t feel like drinking. In addition to drinks like kombucha, nonalcoholic wines and beers are a great option to serve with charcuterie plates and cheese boards. Here’s a quick primer on serving zero-proof wine and beer with your favorite artisan cheeses.
Pairing Cheese With Nonalcoholic Wine or Beer
The good news is that the basic guidelines for pairing cheese with alcoholic drinks apply to zero-proof beverages, too.
- Match intensities (pair lighter-bodied alcohol-free wine and beer with milder, younger cheeses and stronger-flavored drinks with more flavorful aged cheeses).
- Seek out complementary or contrasting flavor and texture profiles to highlight each cheese’s character.
- Reach for bubbly carbonated drinks to cut the richness and refresh the palate when enjoying particularly creamy cheeses like bloomy rinds or dense varieties like Parmesan.
As always, the most important principles to keep in mind are that experimentation leads to great pairings—and that the best pairing is the one you enjoy.
In fact, your biggest challenge might be sourcing nonalcoholic wine and beer to pair with your favorite cheeses. Luckily, plenty of bottle shops, liquor stores, supermarkets, and online sellers have started carrying alcohol-free wine and beer from tiny craft startups and big, well-known brands.
How Are Nonalcoholic Wine and Beer Made?
Nonalcoholic wine and beer are made the same way as their booze-filled brethren: through fermentation (which is also how cheese is made!).
Producers ferment sugars from grapes (in the case of wine) or malt (if making beer) into alcohol, but the beverages undergo the important step of dealcoholization. The alcohol may be removed through various methods, or the fermentation process may be stopped at a certain point to limit how much alcohol is produced.
Because the legal limit for a beverage to be sold as “nonalcoholic” is 0.5%, some nonalcoholic beer and wine brands still include minute amounts of alcohol. In this case, the producer may simply brew a higher-ABV beverage and dilute it to the appropriate ABV, then carbonize the finished product in the case of beer or nonalcoholic sparkling wine. Keep in mind that because they contain trace amounts of alcohol, these drinks might not be appropriate for some sober drinkers.
Who Makes Nonalcoholic Wine and Beer?
Craft beer brands like Athletic Brewing and WellBeing exclusively make nonalcoholic beers that clock in under 0.5% alcohol, while other craft brewers like Brooklyn Brewery and BrewDog have begun producing nonalcoholic beers to complement their full-strength brews.
For wines with less than 0.5% alcohol, look for options like Sovi’s sparkling rose, a California-made dry rose with notes of strawberry and salted watermelon. Other alcohol-free wine brands include SipC, Ariel, Fre, and Noughty.
Are there Nonalcoholic Wine and Beer Brands with Zero Alcohol?
Some producers do offer completely alcohol-free (or “zero-proof”) wine or beer to pair with cheese. These brands contain 0.0% alcohol, making them truly nonalcoholic. Megabreweries like Heineken, Beck’s, and Budweiser offer zero-proof beers, increasing the accessibility of a truly alcohol-free beer.
Zero-alcohol wine brands include Semblance, a California-based producer making a crisp, dry sparkling Chardonnay with 0.0% alcohol. Another producer, Chateau del ISH, makes both sparkling red and white wines with zero booze as well as zero-proof spirits, spritzers, and canned cocktails.
Other Alcohol-Free Drinks That Taste Like Wine
Just because cheese is traditionally served with alcoholic drinks like wine and beer doesn’t mean nonalcoholic wine and beer are your only options for zero-proof pairings. In addition to alcohol-free drinks like tea, kombucha, and hot chocolate, there are plenty of pre-mixed drinks on the market that mimic the flavors, aromas, mouthfeel, and appearance of “real” wine and beer.
For example, TÖST Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Beverage combines the things we love about a great glass of sparkling white wine—complex flavors, pleasant bubbles, gentle tannins, and pleasant acidity—by blending fruit, tea, and herbs in one golden-hued drink.
Meanwhile, the folks at Acid League have developed their Proxies line of “not wine” by balancing different ingredients to create ideal levels of fruit, spice, acidity, and body the same way a winemaker might—sans alcohol. The bottles even look just like trendy wine vessels, and the sips inside range from grassy shades of vinho verde to deep Cabernet red.
Do you have a favorite nonalcoholic wine or booze-free beer to pair with cheese? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and let us know!