Find low alcohol wines so you can enjoy a glass or two without a fuzzy head in the morning and as a way of keeping how much you're drinking in check
Find low alcohol wines so you can enjoy a glass or two without a fuzzy head in the morning and as a way of keeping how much you’re drinking in check. Our pick of low alcohol wines will help you through parties, weddings and any other occasion – on the plus, side low alcohol wines tend to contain fewer calories, so it’s good for your waistline too.
But what should you put in your glass? Low-cal, light and de-alcoholised wines are a booming sector of the market, yet the terms can be confusing. How low is low? How light is light? Even some de-alcoholised wines still contain a little alcohol.
Our wine expert Tim Atkin advises us to choose wines that are naturally low in alcohol, as opposed to manipulated ones. What he calls “real” wine varies in alcohol level, from 20% (for port) to 5.5% (for Moscato d’Asti). Most wines tend to have between 12-14% alcohol. Levels have crept up in recent years, partly because of climate change, but also because of a prevailing taste for softer, riper wines.
It takes a bit of work to track down wines with less than 12% alcohol, but it can be done. Lighter reds are much rarer than comparable whites. Beware: the former can taste scrawny if they’re under-ripe. But pick the right wine and you don’t have to sacrifice flavour and drinking pleasure while you reduce your calorie and alcohol intake. To make it easier, we’ve found some that are deliciously light to make you feel a little more virtuous. Failing that, you can always dilute your favourite 14% alcohol wine with some water!
First up, we recommend Peter Lehmann Riesling. Aussie Riesling is one of the most underrated wines in the world and this is a lip-smacking, dry example from a winery that never lets you down. The favours are dominated by notes of lime and wet stones with lots of breezy acidity. Zesty, crisp and tangy, this will age well too. Try it with a seafood salad.
Available from Majestic for £8.99, 11%
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Hunter Valley Semillon ages better than almost any other New World white, but you will be hard pushed to keep your hands off the bottle right now. Honeysuckle, citrus and a note of cream soda are beautifully entwined here.
Loire Chenin Blanc comes in a number of guises, from still to sparkling, sweet to dry. This example is medium dry, with the sweetness balancing the acidity that is typical of the grape. Great with pork and apple sauce.
Fizzy, grapey Moscato is the closest thing to a glass of lemonade in the world of wine. Low in alcohol, frothy and sweet, it has enough acidity to refresh the palate. I love serving this with strawberries and cream.
As well as being comparatively low in alcohol, this Spanish fizz has to be the best value bubbly in the UK right now. Fresh, yeasty and slightly peppery, it looks as good as it tastes. Dry and refreshing with impressively small bubbles.
The Gers region of southwest France used to be better known for Armagnac than table wines, but the Plaimont co-op has changed that. This pear and peach-like blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc is typically fruity and easy to drink.
Available from Marks & Spencer for £5.29, 11%
Crisp and fresh from northern Portugal this is a great example of Vinho Verde. Light, medium dry and with a slight sparkle it makes a fantastic accompaniment to fresh seafood and lighter dishes.
From the Rheinhessen area of Germany you’ll find this white a great example of medium dry Riesling. Packed with green apple and lime it has a real hit of citrus fruit, a great match for light Asian dishes. Rounded off with soft and fruity notes makes this easy drinking.
A vibrant red wine from Spain bursting with cherry and earthy spice. Medium bodied with a soft finish it makes a perfect match for classic tapas and nibbles.
Available from Marks & Spencer for £7, 9.5%
Wente Vineyards in California mixed their classic Pinot Grigio with sparkling spring water to create a lighter pinot with a slight spritz. Made for stand alone drinking this will also match well with canapés and light dishes.
One of the best summer white wines under £10 we know and perfect with a plate of fresh seafood. Enjoy its foral, spicy charm even if the sun isn’t shining. Portugal at its Atlantic- infuenced best.
Available from Waitrose for £8.29, 11%
Made using Shiraz grapes, this is a seriously fruity New World wine. Light and full of dark berry characters makes it very versatile.
Available from Marks and Spencer for £6, 5.5%
Grown just outside Valencia the climate is perfect for producing light, fresh Moscato. With a natural slight sparkle this is perfect for al fresco dining.
Available from Waitrose for £4.99, 5%
Romanian grapes can produce great value and this is an ideal example. Fresh with a rich savoury spice makes this a great match for slightly heavier chicken and seafood dishes.
Available from Asda for £4.97, 12%
The Brancott Estate harvest these grapes earlier in the season to create a naturally lower alcohol wine. It’s still full of tropical fruit flavours and the refreshingly floral notes you find in the higher percentage alcohol versions.
Available from ocado.com for £10.49, 9%