Raise a glass to low-alcohol wines that you can enjoy guilt-free
Like cleaning the top of the cupboards, or filing your tax return early, Dry January is a good idea – but it isn’t very tempting. We love our wine and in the depths of winter, we aren’t in the mood for sacrifice. That’s why this is the time of year to cheat the system – learn to spot healthier wines that can be consumed with less guilt.
Wine experts agree that the best-quality options are those that naturally have a lower alcohol volume – as opposed to wines that have had alcohol removed artificially. For these naturally healthier varieties, look to white wines grown in cooler climates. The following selection of whites is a good place to start, each with below 12% alcohol. Just remember – if you drink twice as much, you’re missing the point!
Tim Atkin, Master of Wine says: “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 flavours 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.”
11%, £11.99, Majestic
“This may be more of a summer than winter wine – it’s the best sub-£10 white I know with a plate of fresh seafood – but you can still enjoy its floral, spicy charm right now,” says Atkin. “Portugal at its Atlantic-influenced best.”
11%, £8.29, Waitrose
Not only is this a deliciously refreshing Riesling, but it’s very competitively priced too.
9%, £5.50, Sainsbury’s
“Loire Chenin Blanc comes in a number of guises, from still to sparkling, sweet to dry,” says Atkin. “This example is medium dry, with the sweetness balancing the acidity that is typical of the grape. Great with pork and apple sauce.”
11.5%, £7.99, The Co-operative
“As well as being comparatively low in alcohol, this Spanish fizz has to be the best value bubbly in the UK right now,” says Atkin. “Fresh, yeasty and slightly peppery, it looks as good as it tastes. Dry and refreshing with impressively small bubbles.”
11.5%, £5, Asda
This crisp, dry white hails from the Basque region of Gipuzkoa in northern Spain. Pair it with salty fish or a Mediterranean salad.
10.5%, £8.99, Marks and Spencer
“The Gers region of southwest France used to be better known for Armagnac than table wines, but the Plaimont co-op has changed that,” says Atkin. “This pear and peach-like blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc is typically fruity and easy to drink.”
11%, £5.29, Marks & Spencer
“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,” says Atkin. “Honeysuckle, citrus and a note of cream soda are beautifully entwined here.”
10%, £8.99, Tesco
Hailing from the outskirts of Nantes in the west of France, this is a zingy, light wine. Save 33% when you mix and match two bottles.
11.5%, £9.99, Majestic
“Ernie Loosen’s medium-sweet Kabinett comes from the famous wine town of Graach and is deliciously harmonious and food-friendly,” says Atkin. “Perfect if you’re watching calories.”
8%, £13, Sainsbury’s
“Fizzy, grapey Moscato is the closest thing to a glass of lemonade in the world of wine,” says Atkin. “Low in alcohol, frothy and sweet, it has enough acidity to refresh the palate. I love serving this with strawberries and cream.”
8%, £8.99, Morrisons