It is well-known that wine and food can be paired together. You should not serve red wine with fish. 

What happens if you are like thousands of Britons that have stopped drinking alcohol for January?  You can’t drink if you are seated at a poor-quality meal.

It’s an issue for some, as it is a concern about foes that go beyond Dry January. With record-breaking numbers of Britons quitting alcohol, They do so for their livers, wallets, and waistlines. One In fact, four out of every five people under 25 years old are now teetotal. Meanwhile, sales of alcohol-free drinks have increased. £190million last year.   

But, you don’t have to give up booze. Enjoy fine dining with tea, Kombucha or alcohol-free Kombuchas that pair well with food, just like Chardonnay and Rioja.

‘Don’t think that food and drink pairing is the sole preserve of wines and whiskies, and if you want to elevate your dining experience by pairing a non alcoholic drink with your food, then do it,’ Simon Pearson, owner of alcohol-free restaurant The Great Chase in Islington, north London which has a four-page long rare tea menu told FEMAIL.

FEMAIL is being told by Simon and others how to match dry dinner parties for January. 

Simon Pearson, owner of alcohol-free restaurant The Great Chase in Islington, north London which has a four-page long rare tea menu told FEMAIL steak goes perfectly with black tea (stock image)

Simon Pearson is the owner of The Great Chase restaurant in Islington (north London) which offers a 4-page-long rare tea menu. He told FEMAIL Steak goes well with Black Tea (stock image).

With black tea, beef  

Simon shared this with FEMAIL ‘There are loads of little tips, tricks and pointers for pairing flavours in drink and food, and people tend to get very excited about them. 

“Generally speaking, most pairings of flavour fall under one of these two categories: congruent or complementary. 

Simply put: Congruent pairing refers to pairing flavors that are similar. It is the pairing of bitter and sweet flavors, as well as fruit with fruit or smokey with smokey. It sounds pretty easy to do (and it kind of is to be honest), but there’s always a risk that things then become too bitter/fruity/smokey.

“Complementary pairing” is more art than science. The flavours are not matched like with like. They can instead be balanced or enhanced using contrast elements. 

There are many pairing profiles and flavour wheels out there. But think about it as ‘bittersweet’. 

You can also enjoy white teas as a standalone beverage  

Simon says, “White teas usually have a luxurious and almost unctuous taste (especially Silvertips) – these are the buds that were the first to be cultivated in the season. They hold all of it before the leaf begins to explode into life.” 

“These have delicate flavors, even though they are often lovely and broad-ranging. 

These are usually best enjoyed as a single meal. 

“Tea is amazing. There are thousands of cultivars and it is widely grown around the world. It also has an incredible breadth of flavour and terroir. 

You can enjoy a cup or tea with nearly anyone on the planet (hygiene concerns aside). Perhaps mathematics is the closest to universal language, but you don’t necessarily need one to enjoy a cup. 

Black teas tend to be more concentrated in tannins and have bold flavors on the palate. However, they often have lighter mouthfeels. This tea can have smoky, earthy and fruity flavors. The flavor can be malty, with notes of dark chocolate or caramel. The black tea is the best choice when pairing aged red meat. 

“Think of roast beef as a Sunday dinner or ribeye steak.

Green tea and BBQ

Simon stated, “Green teas generally have brighter colors; they are best paired with Asian food.” 

Sencha is one of the best green teas. The bright, buttery flavors make it a wonderful companion for seafood. 

Green Gunpowder teas are hand-rolled, small-sized teas that have an excellent smokey flavour. They go well with barbecued meats. 

Oolong served with duck

Simon suggests Oolong Teas if you are looking for crispy duck.

The flavours of ‘Oolong Teas are varied. 

They can appear bright and fresh, complex and full of life, or they may be dark and woody and deep. You might find some that are fruity, sweet and almost honeyed. 

“A dark Oolong tea is very good with duck. But unlike other teas, which usually have around two cups, an Oolong can enjoy seven different infusions of the same leaf. Each infusion will be richer, deeper and more beautiful than the previous one.”

Alistair Frost, the founder of Pentire, who make non-alcoholic spirits, recommends pairings botanicals with seafood (stock image)

Pentire founder Alistair Frost recommends that botanicals be paired with seafood. Stock image

Pilsner without alcohol with fish 

FEMAIL, Chef Owen Morgan Estrella Gala Brand Ambassador, added: “Pair Estrella Gallicia 0.0% pilsner with citrus flavors because they complement the freshness of the beer’s clean finish perfectly.  

Mix and match flavours to create a harmonious combination. 

 Camille Vidal @mindfullycami founder of @lamaisonwellness and creator of Mindful Cocktails)

A light, elegant cocktail is best for delicate dishes. However, a drink that’s light and refreshing like a lemony-fresh cocktail or a sour orange juice will also work well. 

If the drink has strong flavours, you need a dish to support it. However, you don’t want it too overwhelming. Pair it with lighter drinks if it is a bold food and light drinks if it’s a heavy drink. In food & drinks it’s all about balance.

Don’t be afraid of being creative. You could make simple cocktails with alcohol to go along with your meal.

Another trick: Foods from the same region of the globe tend to be good together. For example, you can have an alcoholic free spritz and aperitif Italian finger foods or an alcoholic free margarita with your tacos night.


Because of its fresh and citrus flavors, he added that pilsners can be paired with seabass ceviche.

Chef Morgan stated that the large cuts of meat are good with pilsners because of their clean taste and refreshing texture.

I also love cod cheek tempura. With spring onions and chorizo sauce, I like to serve my cod cheek tempura. 

“Cod cheeks” in translucent batter taste meaty, and go well with lighter beers. 

“The unique flavor and texture of chorizo sauce makes it a wonderful accompaniment. For something more accessible, this would work well for the same reasons with fish ‘n chips!’.

Non-alcoholic botanicals can be used with seafood

Alistair Frost, the founder of Pentire, who make non-alcoholic spirits, recommends pairings botanicals with seafood.  

“Our spirits are made from distilling botanicals, such as sea rosemary and rock samphire, that grow along our coasts in North Cornwall. So naturally, the flavours lend themselves well to a variety of dishes. But we also love pairing them alongside fresh seafood,” he said.   

Laura Willoughby MBE, founder of mindful drinking movement, Club Soda, added that the drinks can be treated the same as their alcoholic-counterparts.  

‘Binary Botanical describes itself as a wine lovers’ beer and rightly so. 

It is made with organic hops leaves and tastes more tangy than bitter. 

The aroma is light-roasted malts, apple cider, with a hint of honey and pineapple.

Binary Botanical is light-bodied and aromatic, and should be paired with seafood and chicken dishes. 

 Kombucha with white meat, cream and cheese

Laura, who as part of Club Soda has also launched the UK’s first Alcohol-Free Off-Licence added that kombucha’s natural acidity helps to pair it with white meat.

She explained that Kombucha (a fermented tea beverage) is delicious with any type of food.

“It’s naturally acidic nature gives your drink bite and cuts through strong flavors. It also creates speed bumps so that you can sip more slowly. 

Kombucha can also be made without too much sugar and, when brewed with certain teas, it takes on the character of the particular leaf. Real Kombucha’s Royal Flush (made from first flush darjeeling) is fresh and floral with hints of rhubarb and berries. 

It’s great to pair with white meats, fish and umami rich cream sauces. It is best with cheeses, charcuterie, strong cheddar cheese, and biscuits. 

Laura Willoughby MBE, founder of mindful drinking movement, Club Soda, added that the drinks can be treated the same as their alcoholic-counterparts. She recommends pairing kombucha with chicken (pictured, stock image)

Laura Willoughby MBE, founder of mindful drinking movement, Club Soda, added that the drinks can be treated the same as their alcoholic-counterparts. Her recommendation is to pair kombucha and chicken (image, stock image).

Steak and chocolate-based stout without alcohol 

Laura stated that she had never before considered strong dark beers as food partners. When I tried stout, in its alcohol-free version, for the first times, I was amazed at how it could complement chocolate desserts. 

‘Big Drop’s Galactic Milk Stout is great with steak and vegetable pie, oysters, seafood, fish and game meats – but most of all it enhances a chocolate fondant to beyond this galaxy!    

“The amount of restaurants that offer alcohol-free drink pairings has increased significantly over the past two years. At cheese events, I was able to enjoy a complete flight of kombuchas as well as shrubs and beers. In addition, fine dining offered cocktails, beer, and sparkling teas with every course. The times have changed.

Most alcohol-free beverages work just like their full strength counterparts. For example, OddBird Organic Low Intervention Red Wine, a soft blend of Merlot Noir and Pinot Noir that goes well with pasta and meatballs as well as chicken and turkey sausages and mushroom risotto.