For Your Guests Who Don't Imbibe
As a host or hostess, one key beverage is often left out of menu planning and meal pairing - the EANAB, or equally attractive non-alcoholic beverage. For the designated driver or expectant mother, water can get a little boring when everyone else is enjoying a good glass of Riesling.
Navarro Vineyards Grape Juice
One alternative is grape juice crafted from wine grapes, which offers an intriguing, unusual twist for the sophisticated palate. Navarro Vineyards sells three varietals at $11 per bottle. The Verjus, a white grape juice, is both suitable for cooking and also enjoyable as an apertif, and exhibits the sweet and sour flavors found in a green apple. This juice is closest to a dry moscato. It also adds an excellent acidic balance to recipes as an alternative to wine or broth.
The Pinot Noir is a smoother grape juice and more in line with what you would expect from a red grape. While slightly drier than the typical sugar heavy, meant-for-juice grapes, it's rich berry notes get stronger as it opens up. I preferred this balanced juice over the intensity of both the Verjus and the Gewürztraminer.
Finally, out of the three juices the Gewürztraminer had the sweetest notes.
Wine Country Soda Vignette Rose
Vignette soda is 40 to 50% juice, making it one of the healthier beverage alternatives. It also contains no high fructose corn syrup or added color. The rose is a blend of varietals that pours as a vibrant pink and hits just the right level of sweetness, making it my favorite out of these options. A 12 ounce bottle costs $2.50, and can be purchased at the Wine Country Soda Shop.
GuS starts out with purified sparkling water as the first ingredient and cane sugar as the second, so each offering, no matter what the flavor, starts out as natural as possible. I found that the Cranberry Lime and Pomegranate flavors were favored by guests over the Cola and Root Beer, but the key satisfaction factor seemed to be the variety of offerings. At 90 calories per individual bottle, and with most flavors 100% caffeine-free, GuS offers a fun alternative to the mainstream soda and juice brands. GuS is priced at around $1 to $1.50 per 12 ounce bottle.
A final alternative, and the most versatile, is a high-end sparkling water. Pellegrino offers the popular, Italian-sourced sparkling and still water under it's S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna brands. I enjoy sparkling water nearly every day, but it also can be customized for the event or occasion. On its own, sparkling water offers a sophisticated drink alternative, but pair Pellegrino over ice with a range of flavored syrups, and the guest controls both the flavor and the sugar content.
No matter which beverage alternative you choose, guests will be sure to appreciate the options. Share your favorite alternatives in the blog comments!