12 low alcohol wines so you can enjoy a glass or two without a fuzzy head in the morning

These natural low alcohol wines taste great and have a lower ABV than traditional wine

Woman pouring low alcohol wines into a glass at dining table with white tablecloth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Low alcohol wines are ideal for anyone looking to cut back on their alcohol intake or even give up booze for good. While many non-drinkers like to stick to soft drinks only, having a lower-alcohol glass of wine is one way others have been able to keep enjoying the drink.

Thanks to mindful drinking and sober-curious movements in the last few years, there's more interest in low alcohol wine than ever before with classic brands and new initiatives being set up to offer customers their favorite tipple - without the risk of a heavy head the next day.

This means low alcohol wines have come a long way in recent years, going from being specialty produce to essential stock on the shelves of most mainstream grocery stores for anyone looking to enjoy the benefits of not drinking alcohol to the same extent, or the lowest calorie alcohol. It's great news for wine drinkers but it means the range of choice is huge. To help you find the right one, we've consulted Tim Atkin, a master of wine with over 30 years of experience in the industry, and rounded up some of the very best. 

What are low alcohol wines?

Low alcohol wines, Atkin explains, vary in alcohol level from 20% (for port) to 5.5% (for Moscato d'Asti). Most wines tend to have between 12 and 14% ABV so while this may seem relatively high still, it's lower than standard. "Levels have crept up in recent years, partly because of climate change, but also because of a prevailing taste for softer, riper wines," he says. 

You can also buy zero-alcohol wine, like Oddbird Domaine de la Prade Merlot Shiraz or Oddbird Rosé, if you don't want any alcohol at all. But if taste and a more authentic experience are what you're after, and you're just looking to try more mindful drinking approaches, opt for lower-alcohol wines as these haven't been manipulated. "Choose wines that are naturally low in alcohol as opposed to manipulated ones," suggests Atkin. 

It takes a bit of work to track down these low alcohol wines, especially ones with less than 13% ABV, but it can be done. 

Best low alcohol wines UK 

Best low alcohol wines US

Is low alcohol wine better for you?

Yes, while there's no such thing as healthy alcohol, low alcohol wines are better for you than wine with a higher ABV. Not only is wine with a lower alcohol percentage one of the best alternatives to alcohol at full strength, since it still tastes the same as full-percentage wine, research from Institut de Recerca Hospital in Barcelona found that those who drank limited to moderate amounts of alcohol were between 25 and 30% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and other adverse health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. 

Alcohol is also one of the biggest contributors to inflammation, says Pauline Cox, functional nutritionist and health consultant. "Ethanol is the end-product of fermenting carbohydrates," she explains, and wine tends to contain more ethanol than other types of alcohol due to the natural sugar in grapes. "1.5oz shot of an 80-proof hard spirit will give you 120 calories for example. 12 of those calories are metabolized within the stomach and intestine and a further 10% is metabolized in the brain, which causes the intoxicating effects. This means approximately 96 calories make it to the liver."

Ethanol then causes an inflammatory reaction in your liver, she says, and it's one of the reasons why many people are considering what happens when you give up alcohol for good. "The body quickly uses up its stores of the power antioxidant glutathione to combat damage. Ethanol does not get metabolized into glycogen and instead goes straight into the mitochondria with any excess being turned straight into fat and stored in the liver."

When excessive amounts of fat are made and the liver becomes more fatty, the fat begins to deposit in the skeletal muscle, in and around the organs. "Alcholic fatty liver progresses," Cox explains, "And that's just from 1.5oz of alcohol. Imagine the effects of mixers and juices on a regular basis!"

Grace Walsh
Health Editor

A digital health journalist with over six years of experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.

She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness as well. Everything from the best protein powder to dating apps, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.