With "Dry January" in full flow we took some time at hampers HQ to taste an intriguing new alcohol-free product recently added to our range. Nine Elms No.18.
Dry January has gained popularity in recent years as the perfect way to detox after the excesses of Christmas. But this poses a serious question.
What to drink when you’re not drinking?
One of the challenges for people who are trying to avoid alcohol is finding the perfect non-alcoholic drink to go with your meal. Whether this is when dining out or (as is more often the case nowadays) when dining at home. Your choices can be limited.
Although there has recently been an increase in popularity within the food and drink industry for alcohol alternatives, such as Seedlip (a non-alcoholic ‘spirit’), in many pubs and restaurants the options are often restricted to a selection of sweet and sickly sparkling drinks. Or water. And let’s be honest, none of these are really the perfect match for your Côte de Boeuf avec frites.
This is where there’s a new contender on the block intent on brushing aside the competition... Nine Elms No.18. This award-winning wine alternative was specially crafted in the UK for those that want a non-alcoholic drink to pair with their meals. It’s designed to be drunk straight; in the same way you would drink a glass of wine but is versatile enough to use as an ingredient in a mocktail.
It's made using the juice of a selection of berries including aronia, black cherry, blackcurrant and red grape which are then blended with several botanical extracts. According to Nine Elms it is “Perfect to complement good food”.
So how will Nine Elms No.18 fare when it’s put to the test by a discerning group of tasters at hampers HQ? We gathered our elite tasting team to give their verdict.
The taste test
Although Nine Elms can be used in a mocktail, we tried it as a straight pour on its own. What surprised us most about Nine Elms was that it wasn’t sweet. Knowing that it was made from berries and judging by other alcohol alternatives, we instantly thought it was going to taste something like a fancy fruit juice.
This was not the case at all. You could tell that it was made of fruit, but it wasn’t sweet or sickly. In ways it shared some of the character of a red wine, whilst also being completely different. If we had to compare it to a particular wine, it would probably be a Pinot Noir.
It was medium to light-bodied with flavours of red fruit such as cranberry, raspberry and red cherry. It had a layer of smokey, savoury complexity from the different botanicals used and the finish was balanced with a pleasant tart acidity. It even had some fine tannins. This was something very different to anything we'd tried before.
With its red-fruit profile and soft tannins, Nine Elms could be paired effortlessly with a range of dishes. From a wintery sausage and mash to tomato-based dishes such as seafood linguine or a rustic ratatouille. Surprisingly, It would also work with a variety of desserts. Especially those with dark chocolate or red fruits. Something like a summer pudding would work well, or if you were feeling particularly retro, a classic 1970’s style Black Forest gateau.
The bottle itself looks and feels premium. It comes in a full 75cl bottle, so it won’t look out of place on your table alongside a "normal" bottle of wine. This is great because you and your guests can enjoy the full experience of pouring and sharing from a bottle together. Once it’s poured into a glass it has a light ruby colour and is almost indistinguishable from a light red wine.
Overall, we think Nine Elms No.18 is a winner and has rightfully earned its place in the hallowed hampers.com hall of fame. We think this unique tipple could be put to good use in a whole host of culinary situations.
Keeping a bottle to hand in your wine rack wouldn’t go amiss either, allowing you to surprise and delight any dinner guests that may decide they want something different with their meal.
Nine Elms No.18 is available to try in our Grand Alcohol Free Hamper. It’s the perfect gift for friends, loved ones or even yourself during Dry January. We also have a wide selection of alcohol free hampers available online at hampers.com.
Find out more about the story behind Nine Elms No.18.