Alcoholic Drink labels – Confused ?

Alcoholic Drink labels – How Confused Was I ?

Now once I got out of hospital having served notice of 48 hours to live I knew that my liver was a priority. The thing is I still wanted to socialize with friends and eat out like I used to do but clearly without the alcohol unless I wanted to nearly die again.

Just for clarification I was what they call a normal social drinker so nothing particularly out of the ordinary and yet my liver failed hard. So this was my lifeline. Getting more choice for zero alcohol products, it’s a little mission but one I treasure.

However the only way I did that was to look at the alcohol drink labels. Confused yes I was:

  • Was it alcohol free or 0.5%
  • Was 0.0% totally alcohol free?
  • What about 0.4%
  • Was it low sugar?
  • Did the calories matter.

“Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.” Martina Navratilova

Crikey my mind was spinning around not really understanding very much about alcoholic drink labels. It was like a new handbook for eating and drinking out. Not only that but that attitude of some people who serve leaves you feeling very small.

Only yesterday my colleagues husband asked for a non alcohol beer for no other reason than to try it and was told “what is the point, why not have a coke instead?” It’s not just me who experiences this attitude. There are many great bars and staff so I am not trying to generalize but the examples I am afraid to outweigh the positive experiences overall. I include limited choice in this.

Why is are alcoholic drink labels important?

“The term was ‘functional drunk,’ and as far as he was concerned, as long as he was functioning he was going to be drunk.” Jennifer Valoppi, Certain Cure: Where Science Meets Religion

If you are on a specialist diet it is perfectly normal to check the bottle/ menu for the information displayed in the bar or the restaurant. Now it is the law. So it’s really important because if you can’t drink alcohol, for health reasons, religion or if you’re pregnant, they give you all the information you need. I’ll add another at this point, maybe you just don’t want to drink alcohol, something some servers don’t get.

So it is perfectly OK to look at the bottle or the label and you are within your right to ask for it. I know allergies have come into the frame of late although this does not seem to have passed over into non-alcoholic drinks. Although it is worth a reminder that some people do have an extreme reaction to alcohol so the same rule applies.

In the UK we have something called weight and measures which sounds like a bad TV show but it is the law and strict rules guide the sale of alcohol. Ironically of course if I order online some 0.0 abv beer I still have to show my passport. Do You think it’s my looks:( no I am afraid it’s the law.

The 0.0 abv factor and what it means?

“You can find temporary happiness in things like drinking liquor or smoking a joint. But the true one comes when you start embarking on a journey of doing something worthy of esteem and emulation.” Michael Bassey Johnson, The Book of Maxims, Poems and Anecdotes

The 0.0 abv factor is crucial; it can be the difference between living or not or crashing your car and losing your license. ABV stands for alcohol by volume and can give you a range from zero to as high as you want to go with being pure and sensible by law.

This is the figure you want to double check on the label to make sure. Now the law in the UK and Europe distinguishing between no alcohol free is confusing in several ways but it is best summed up as:

  • Low Alcohol are drinks that contain somewhere in between 0.5% and 1.2% ABV. Again ABV stands for alcohol by volume.
  • De-alcoholised: Drinks containing less than 0.5% ABV
  • Alcohol Free contains less than 0.05% ABV or less.

De-alcoholized drinks are where the alcohol is taken out. Alcohol free really just acknowledges that some alcohol may be formed as part of the fermentation process. Now be aware that there is sometimes more alcohol in fruit juice or bread than there is in an abv of less than 0.5%. You can see however why it is confusing.

If you are unsure, I just keep to the 0.0% where occasionally it may say not more than 0.05% percent to acknowledge the law and natural process. This way you know you are safe but always take medical advice. There are plenty of total 0.0% drinks out there although not widely stocked.

Check out my review of Peroni Alcohol Free Beer Here

Where to find the alcoholic drink labels?

So in terms of labels in bottles they are always on the back and some bottles have key branding on the front especially in beer so it says 0.0% but do me a favor and yourself and always check the small print.

Now if it is an on tap purchase remember a place serving alcohol has to display the measure of all their drinks in some way. So even people working behind the bar should direct you the right information if it is not clear.

Remember you are the consumer so you are well within your rights don’t don’t let any funny comments put you off it’s your life and your health. With liver disease every venture into a bar is like day one at school.

The official line is as follows:

The declaration of the alcohol by volume (ABV) content must be shown or displayed — Food Labeling Regulations 1996. A health and safety law poster is to be displayed if each employee has not been provided with a pocket card reminder — Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989.

Your experience of alcoholic drink labels?

Let me know what your experience of labels have been, do you understand the labels and more important is abv clear? What’s been your experience of asking for information regarding alcohol free products. Have the bar staff been helpful.

Leave a comment regarding anything to do with labeling and I’ll make sure I reply.



4 thoughts on “Alcoholic Drink labels – Confused ?”

  1. Hello there, I really do love the content of this article and I must say you have done well to bring this up. Alcohol is something some people don’t take and so when it comes to taking a drink, the label becomes really important. Labeling generally should be taken seriously, and for me it should contain a certain level of information to give you a heads up on what you are about to take.

    • Thanks Bella, alcoholic drink labels certainly helped me to understand the alcohol content so you are spot on. I know some people take issue with you asking but I just go for it now:) Thanks so much for taking time out to comment, I really appreciate it, Phil

  2. The level of information included in the alcohol label should not be counted for nothing less because the information can really help a lot to give vital information. For someone like me that do not take alcohol, it becomes paramount to get the right information form the label so I know if a drinknis alcohol inducing or not

    • Thanks Sherry, you are so right about the information regarding alcoholic drink labels and what it contains, it is very useful and in my case life saving. It can actually take a minute to look as long as the information is there. I really appreciate you taking time out to comment, Phil


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