Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Wine On Antibiotics? The myths debunked.

Can you drink non alcoholic wine on antibiotics?

You can drink non alcoholic wine with most antibiotics and you can drink alcohol free wine with all antibiotics. There is a small group of antibiotics which you can be more cautious of when considering drinking non alcoholic wine which do cause a reaction with alcohol.

However, the actual amount of alcohol in a glass of non alcoholic wine is similar to or even lower than in many common foods, which you would not think of as being higher risk with antibiotics or any drugs.

Why can you not drink alcohol on some antibiotics?

The common misconception is “you can’t drink any alcohol on antibiotics”. Where does this come from and is it actually true? What can happen to you if you drink alcohol on an antibiotic, what are the negative side effects? The strictest safest approach is to avoid alcohol on antibiotics if you do not know what you are taking but actually understanding the risks is not hard.

The biggest risk that you should be aware of is called… the disulfiram-like reaction. It sounds nasty so i’ll explain all.

Disulfiram-like reaction

This is the key risk to think about in terms of antibiotics and alcohol.

Disulfiram goes by the trade name Antabuse. It is prescribed to recovering alcoholics who want to abstain as when you combine it with alcohol, it makes you feel very unwell indeed, and you can’t drink any more.

Disulfiram causes a host of symptoms from nausea and vomiting to flushing, headache, abdominal pain and general hangover symptoms. As you can imagine, you do not feel well.

A disulfiram-like drug therefore, is one which mimics disulfiram in terms of what it looks like and how your body reacts to it. When you drink alcohol with a disulfiram-like drug you get nearly all the same symptoms. This is by far, the main group of antibiotics to avoid with alcohol.

Which antibiotics cause a reaction with alcohol?

Which antibiotics are disulfiram-like and which others should be avoided for a different reason? The list isn’t huge and i have spoken to many doctors and most of these antibiotics are very rarely used.

Metronidazole (Flagyl) 

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Tinidazole (Tindamax)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Cefotetan (Cefotan)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Linezolid (Zyvox)

Can cause a hypertensive (high blood pressure) crisis. You should avoid beer containing lots of tyramine, like tap beer.

Doxycycline (Acticlate, Doryx, Vibramycin)

If you are a chronic drinker, doxycycline levels might not get up to where you want them. There is the possibility you could need a higher dose if drinking lots of alcohol.

Rifampin (Rifadin)

Rifampin can combine with alcohol to cause liver damage. The recommendation is not to drink any alcohol with rifampin

Iisoniazid (Nydrazid)

Can combine with alcohol to cause liver issues. You should avoid alcohol whilst taking it.


Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Cycloserine (Seromycin)

Combined with alcohol can cause nasty central nervous system issues from drowsiness to seizure. You should avoid alcohol whilst taking it

Erythromycin ethylsuccinate (E.E.S.)

Alcohol can cause erythromycin to stay in the stomach longer meaning less is absorbed and it is less effective. You should avoid alcohol when taking this medication.

Nifurtimox (Lampit)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic

Which antibiotics don’t cause a reaction with alcohol?

If you exclude the above antibiotics, that leaves the vast majority which should not have any interaction with alcohol in moderation. 

The would mean nearly all the common antibiotics you would be on for chest, urine, kidney or skin infections would be fine to take with alcohol. 

This would include the penicillins such as amoxicillin, benzylpenicillin, clarithromycin or flucloxacillin. 

Is there a difference between alcohol free wine and non alcoholic wine?

Alcohol free and non alcoholic wines can differ over wine making techniques and marketing but clearly, the biggest difference, is the alcohol by volume percentage in each.

Unfortunately the labels on “non alcoholic wine” can be confusing depending on where you live.

“Non alcoholic wine” can be used as a generic or catch all term for all 0.0-0.5% ABV wines. However, it should be specifically applied to wine with an ABV 0.05-0.5%. This is certainly true in USA, UK and Austrialia.

Alcohol free wines would then have an ABV of <0.05%. In many countries the labelling laws state this must be the case but not in all jurisdictions, like the EU for example. EU beers, wines and spirits are imported into the UK and can be labelled “alcohol free” even at 0.5% ABV. Confusing right?

For a full overview of the labelling of non alcoholic and alcohol free wine, you can read my full article on it here

For the remainder of this article…

Non alcoholic wine is wine with an ABV of 0.05%-0.5%

Alcohol free wine is wine with an ABV of <0.05%

Can you drink alcohol free wine on antibiotics?

By definition, alcohol free wines will have no alcohol (except possibly a tiny trace amount). Any trace amount is not biologically active and is immediately metabolised away with no action.

This means that you can safely drink alcohol free wines (<0.05% wines), with no risk of a disulfiram-like reaction with any antibiotic. That is a nice easy rule to follow isn’t it?

Can you drink non alcoholic wine on antibiotics?

Non alcoholic wines can involve a little bit more thought. They can have up to 0.5% alcohol by volume which is still tiny but x10 more than an alcohol free wine.

I have compared the alcohol in non alcoholic drinks to many common foods in my article here. Fruit juices, such as apple or orange, usually have more alcohol than a non alcoholic wine and even some breads can, i bet you didn’t know that.

In general, you wouldn’t be worrying about eating breads or drinking fruit juices on antibiotics.

You can certainly drink non alcoholic wine on the vast majority of antibiotics, as they cause no reaction with alcohol.

To be ultra cautious, you could still avoid alcohol free wine with the disulfiram-like antibiotics.

Can you drink non alcoholic wine on metronidazole (flagyl)?

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is probably the main antibiotic you will be prescribed which has a strong interaction with alcohol so i it worth just reiterating it. 

Non alcoholic wine has the same alcohol content as orange or apple juice, if not less and you would not be worried about drinking that on Flagyl but to be cautious and avoid any possible reaction, i would avoid non alcoholic wine when taking Flagy.

You can drink alcohol free beer with an ABV of 0.0% without risk of reaction.

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