The Enjoyment of Lower Alcohol Wine
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
With lockdown it is tempting and enjoyable to open a few more bottles than normal. But I have found that this increased frequency of consumption is so much better if the alcohol levels are not up there at 14-15% which is increasingly the norm. Put it down to global warming, but more likely winemakers ability to grow much riper grapes.
If you prefer lower levels of alcohol, which frankly I do, there has been a lot of de-alcoholised wines appearing recently, but I am yet to find one I really enjoy. Unlike good low and no strength beers, where flavours like hops and malty characters can be retained, wines tend to taste somewhere between watery fruit juice and some sweet confected concoction.
But there are some wonderful traditional real wines which have only 8% to 9% alcohol and some with only 5%!
The Rieslings from the Mosel and Rhein in Germany makes wonderful intensely flavoured crisp wines, some almost bone dry and some with good fruit sweetness. I am keen on the wines from Mosel Wine guru Ernest Loosen. His Slate Dry at Laithwaites is pure clean dry wine with masses of crisp fruit. Also his Estate wines available in many wine shops are equally low strength at 8.5% but sweeter. Try the famous Dr Loosen Dry Riesling at Virgin Wines for just £6.99 with our £60 off voucher.
For a perfect accompaniment to fruit desserts and cheese the northern Italian wine Asti Spumante is a wonderfully crisp sweet fizz, and only 5%, but elegantly not describable as lower strength.
At only 8% or 5% perhaps you can even spoil yourself with a second glass!
Christopher Burr, MW,
30th January 2021