Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Treading Lightly this New Year: 3 Lower Alcohol Wines to Enjoy

There seems to be a bit of a trend this year for 'Dry January', whereby folk are attempting to banish the booze for the 31 days of January following the festive season. As lovers of all things drink here at Vinspire, that's a mean feat, so we're not going to kid ourselves and pretend that we're not going to touch a drop. Instead, we're making sure we're drinking in moderation and making sensible alcohol choices, in particular when it comes to wines.

Alcohol levels in wines have seemingly crept up over the last few years (most are now around 13.5% abv) and I have no qualms in picking up a bottle of powerful Californian Zinfandel which pushes up to 15% abv because it's become the norm. A couple of glasses later and admittedly I'm feeling a little woozy so it's nice to stumble upon a few wines which don't elicit that 'it's gone straight to my head' feeling which comes with higher, and even moderate, alcohol wines. With a little digging, it's possible to find lower alcohol wines, without compromising on quality or price so I've listed a few of my faves for you to hunt down and enjoy as we approach what is considered to be the most depressing week of the year!

With the popularity of bubbles over the festive season, it can be difficult to wean ourselves off fizzy treats like Champagne and Prosecco in the new year. For a light style fizz with just 5.5% abv and under a fiver (just!), I can't go past picking up a bottle of the Simply Pink Moscatel from Tesco's own range. Pink, effervescent and full of sweet strawberry fruit flavour, it makes for a nice alternative to traditional fizz (though by no means a subsitution!). For best results, serve chilled and add your best girlie mates, a rom-com and chocolate coated strawberries...this one is best saved for the girls! Sorry boys.

If you're looking for a white, keep your eyes peeled for a Semillon, or Riesling, which tend to come in at around, or under 11% abv naturally, even from warmer climes such as Australia. the Tesco Finest* 'Denman' Semillon from the Hunter Valley in Australia, has an abv of 10% - the cool climate conditions of the Hunter Valley keep the alcohol relatively low as well as retaining freshness and rich fruit flavour.  Zesty lemon flavour and a rich, zippy finish make for a delightful summer white, a nice accompaniment to fishy dishes or a match for classic roast chicken. At £8.99 from Tesco, it's not one we're likely to guzzle and mindlessly drink, and it'll likely be reserved for dinner guests or a weekend meal.

Reds with lower alcohol can be a little harder to come by, though there are many to be found at 12% - think Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and some Italian reds, which are lighter bodied. In all honesty, the 'non alcoholic' reds which appear on some shelves, really don't float my boat and I'd much rather go for a 12% red than these manufactured, tasteless low abv alternatives - but if you dare to try I'd gladly take feedback!

This light Italian red from The Wine Society ticks the low abv box and the value for money box, and it's uncomplicated and declicious to boot. The Ponte Pietra Merlot Corvina, 2012  is at £5.95 a bottle and is soft-flavoured with low tannin and juicy fruit, whilst weighing in at 12% abv. Think regional pairings if you want to enjoy with food, and go for classic Italian spaghetti and meatballs or a Margherita pizza.

All wines sold in the UK are required to show the alcohol volume on the label so it's easy to keep tabs and make wise choices. Whilst we're not asking you to drown all you've learnt about wine and let the abv be your guiding light, we would ask that you not discount lower abv wines on the basis that they're all undrinkable!

Happy January!

Image taken from Elisa Piper's photostream under the CCL.

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