What is the difference between non-alcoholic, de-alcoholised and alcohol-free drinks?

Ever wondered what the difference between alcohol-free, non-alcoholic and de-alcoholised drinks is? Well you are not alone, and many of us are confused as to why there are separate versions of what essentially sounds like the same thing.

Here you will find the simple answer to this question so that this festive season and beyond, you can make the right choices for you and those you are catering for.


This term is used within South Africa to categorise beverages that contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). As an example, when making a non-alcoholic wine, it undergoes almost the same process as regular wine except that the fermentation process is halted to stop the sugar from being converted into alcohol. Sometimes unfermented drinks are mixed in to lower the alcohol volume even more.


De-alcoholised beverages are made in the same way that regular alcoholic beverages are made, but once the fermentation process is complete, the alcohol is then extracted from the beverage using a series of processes such as reverse osmosis or vacuum distillation. These beverages are also classified as having less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).


This term is used to describe a drink that has less than 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV). For example, an alcohol-free wine is most likely a grape juice that has been spruced up to imitate a wine. The liquid hasn’t undergone a full fermentation process; therefore the sugars have never fully been converted into 


So which one should you choose?

If you are looking for something that will be delicious and suit non-drinkers, pregnant women and even kids, then alcohol-free is the best way to go. Try the zingy and delicious Smith’s Hibiscus Ginger Beer or Duchess G&Ts.

If you are looking for something that is closer in taste to alcohol but only contains a trace, then de-alcoholised and non-alcoholic drinks will be a winner for you. Try out the delectable Devils Peak Hero Zero beer or the Spier Mixed 2-Pack of Chenin Blanc and Shiraz.

Now that you know the difference, you can make a more informed decision when it comes to your next purchase this festive season. Check the AVB on the label to know what you are getting and take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to worry about you or your guests getting that unwanted boozy buzz!