How low can you go?

"Please can you tell me if there are any good lower alcohol wines I should try?" so asked the lovely Reluctant Launderer (she's up the duff, and slightly in shock). Until recently I've found most lower-alcohol-than-normal wines (I'm talking less than 9% alcohol by volume, the legal limit for most wine to be called wine) about as good as herbal fags i.e. horrible and pointless. Sometimes the wine is naturally lower in alcohol (like Italian Asti or German Riesling) but now there is technology to remove alcohol artificially. And it's these artificial ones that draw the herbal fag analogy because what is lost in alcohol is also often lost in taste.

But there's been a change brought about by our evolving tastes and general awareness about not drinking too much. In fact, big 14.5%+ wines suddenly look a bit, well, overdone and out of place. Cooler climates generally produce wines with naturally lower alcohols (sunshine = alcohol) and everywhere from Argentina to New Zealand is seeking out cooler regions to grow grapes and make wines with more subtle, and ultimately more drinkable, alcohol levels. Anyway, here are a few naturally lower-than-normal-alcohol wines I've tasted and loved recently:

Mrs Wigley Moscato, 4.5%*, £8.99, Oddbins, Flagship Wines
This was launched just last week at the London International Wine Show and was the only wine tasting I did accompanied by miniature cupcakes. Stroke of genius, it was absolutely delicious. Made from red Frontignac, better known as the floral-scented Muscat grape, in South Australia's McLaren Vale region. It is the colour of Turkish Delight, smells of roses and is gently fizzy, I kid you not. The down side is, although lower in alcohol, it has got a fair amount of sugar in it. But then, so has cake. Mrs Wigley was a cat that made her home in the fermenting tanks in the winery, apparently. Properly delightful stuff with a lovely story to match.


Dr Wagner Riesling 2010, 8%, £8.54, Waitrose
Another naturally lower-alcohol white from Germany's Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, where they make adorable Rieslings. This one is delicate, apple-scented and so refreshing as to be a complete joy. And if you share a bottle of this with a friend over dinner, you won't be crying and complaining about your husband/kids/work/weight by the end of it. Pretty as a floral tea dress.


Jacob's Creek Cool Harvest Vermentino 2011, 9.5%, £8.06, Tesco
Big name, not-so-big alcohol level. The grapes are harvested at night and cool temperatures are maintained when it is made helping to retain the delicate floral aromas and flavours of the wine. It is made from an underrated and really very brilliant grape variety (Vermentino) and it very definitely tastes of wine unlike many of the reduced alcohol wines I've tried that taste like my mum's put one of her Splendas in there.


Lower-alcohol wines are definitely gaining a following, meaning we should have lots more to choose from on our shelves in a year's time.

Cheers to that x

*I know the lady who looks after Mrs Wigley (the wine, not the cat) and she's kindly offered to send a bottle of this to a lucky reader so leave a comment if you want your name in a hat and I'll ask Eldest Boy to pick one out next week.

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