Low and No Alcohol Drinks Explained

A summary of the terms and rules around the claims of a drink being Non-alcoholic or Alcohol-free*

1. ABV% tells you how much alcohol is in a measure of a drink. The ABV % is defined as the number of MLS of pure alcohol found in 100ml of the drink. As an example, a bottle of wine may have 14% ABV, meaning in every 100mls, there are 14mls of pure alcohol ( ethanol).

2. Many of the new ‘alcohol-free’ drinks have 0.5% ABV on the label. WHY?

It is NZ and AUS law (and in most other countries). If a food or drink contains even 1.15%-0.5% ABV, it must be stated on the label ( that’s why you see it on Kombucha as an example). However, worth noting that some everyday foods & drinks ( such as ripe bananas, fruit juices, and even some bread) contain similar amounts and are not labeled.

3. If a product has less than 1.15%, it can be labeled low alcohol. If it has any more, it cannot. It must also include a warning for pregnant drinkers.

4. If a product contains ANY alcohol, it cannot officially be called Alcohol-free. However, the term is widely used unofficially, but not usually on fruit :)

To give some context:

Wine tends to have between 10.5%-15% ABV.

Spirits - 25%-90% ABV

Beer - 4%-6% ABV or more.

Angustouro Bitters contains 44.7% ABV. That is, if you were to drink 100mls, it would be 44.7% pure alcohol. A few drops in lime and soda would be way less than 0.5% ABV.

For my posts and coverage of 'Alcohol-free' drinks, I refer to anything that has 0.5% or less as ‘alcohol-free,’ but as far as possible, I always try to add the ABV% in the post too.

On a personal note:

After I quit drinking, I waited 3 months before trying anything that had alcohol, even Kombucha. Since then, I have found great joy in having ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives, I am not triggered, and I love that I can have the experience without the downsides.


Whilst some are comfortable and safe to drink ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives, they may not always be suitable. Some options do emulate the alcoholic versions & may give sensory cues that you could find triggering if you are battling addiction. In this case, fear not! There are some amazing completely alcohol-free options that do not try to ‘be like’ anything else, including:



@fevertree tonics

If you are dealing with addiction or are concerned about your drinking, please visit the HELP page for safe places to make contact.

I hope you find this info helpful and reassuring.

*Information gathered from Food Standards Australia/NZ

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