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Cheers Sans Alcohol

Alouette Bistro

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By Lin Stranberg

Photos Courtesy of Sansorium

Cheers! Santé! Salud! The toasts may be the same, but what’s in the glasses is radically different. Bottoms up —alcohol-free drinks are having a moment. Thanks to a new high-tech process called dealcoholization, which removes the booze without sacrificing the flavor, alcohol[1]free wines and spirits are tastier and more appealing than they have ever been before. Dealcoholized wine is real wine that has undergone processing techniques that have removed most or all of its alcohol content.

The dealcoholizing process takes the alcohol level down to 0.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) or below. The global standard and common definition of non-alcoholic is anything 0.5% ABV. Dealcoholized wine, with an ABV of 0.5%, is non-intoxicating and considered alcohol-free. It tastes much more like regular wine. It contains many of the same healthy polyphenols that are found in regular wine, and it’s often much lower in calories and carbs.

People can enjoy drinking fine dealcoholized wine without the side effects of alcohol. A perfect storm of factors, from Canada’s legalization of cannabis to stricter provincial driving laws to the new Health Canada guidelines, has made choosing to avoid alcohol more common and generally accepted than at any time in the past. Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health, published in 2023, is based on the latest evidence-based research on alcohol-related risks, replacing Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) issued in 2011.

“We chose our name, Sansorium, from the Latin ‘sensorium.’ It means ‘feeling more—more sensuality, more beauty”

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Key points are that there is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use where the risk of harm increases with the amount of alcohol consumed

  • 0 drinks per week — Not drinking has benefits like better health and better sleep.
  • 2 drinks or less per week — You are likely to avoid alcohol-related consequences for yourself or others at this level.
  • 3–6 drinks per week — Your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increases at this level
  • 7 drinks or more per week — Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases significantly at this level.
  • Each additional drink radically increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences.
  • Consuming more than 2 drinks per occasion is associated with an increased risk of harms to self and others, including injuries and violence.
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use.
  • When breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest.

“These drinks do a great job of convincing both your palate and your brain that you’re having a real night out but enable you to drive home safely at the end of it”


The good news is, with the proliferation of sophisticated mocktails and the availability of high-end alcohol-free wines, beers, spirits, ciders, and pre-mixed cocktails, you can enjoy the best of drinking without worrying about the negative effects.

There are loads of interesting non-alcoholic options out there with dry, complex, and satisfying flavors. These drinks do a great job of convincing both your palate and your brain that you’re having a real night out but enable you to drive home safely at the end of it.

Sensorium is an alcohol-free drink retailer that has done a great job at bringing it all together. A couple of years ago, when the alcohol-free trend first hit, North Vancouver mom Kathryn Hepher and her daughters Fiona and Sarah were so enthusiastic about it that they started up their own company, Sensorium,

and got busy sourcing, curating, and selling a selection of fine alcohol-free wine, beer, spirits and ready-to-drink creations. Their website is full of fabulous alcohol-free tipples that you can shop at home, as luxurious as anything from Big Alcohol. “We chose our name, Sensorium, from the Latin ‘sensorium.’

It means ‘feeling more—more sensuality, more beauty,’ Fiona Hepher said. (The ‘sans’ part would seem to be French, indicating the products are all without or ‘sans’ alcohol.) it’s a small operation with just a few full-time employees and a few part-time employees. Sansorium likes to be involved with their community. “We have tastings in Vancouver every quarter or so, and we had one in Toronto last summer as well.

Typically, around 75 people come to a tasting,” she said. Sensorium is the exclusive Canadian importer of Edenvale wines, an award-winning Australian producer that ranks at the top of Kathryn, Fiona, and Sarah’s lists of favorite alcohol-free wines.

“We are dedicated to bringing you the best in alcohol-free wines, and we hope to continue to connect with more premium alcohol-free wineries around the world and bring their products to Canada too,” Fiona said. All Sensorium products are intended for people who want to connect more fully with themselves and the world around them and don’t want to waste time on hangovers. Many are on offer at fine restaurants in the Vancouver area. For the full story, and a list of retail and restaurant locations where their products are available, see the Sensorium website:

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