Low alcohol wines used to be frowned at by most wine drinkers, especially wine snobs, but now, is a low alcohol wine a trendy alternative? The answer has to be yes, for several reasons. The sudden increase in interest in wines with a lower alcohol by volume (abv.) has perhaps been brought on by global warming as well as a few other factors.
I hear you say, how come? Well in the last 15 years some wines have increased by between 2% to 3% abv. which means that a red wine that may have been 13% abv. is now coming out at around 15% abv. This is a massive increase due to warmer weather enabling higher natural sugar levels. If these sugars are totally converted into alcohol to produce a bone dry wine then a blockbuster awaits – one or two glasses and you’re on the floor!
To counteract very high sugar production, vineyards are producing grapes in high altitude, cool climate vinegrowing areas such as New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. Producers in Germany are also providing popular low alcohol versions of Rieslings to enable light summer white wine drinking styles to be made.
What about the health benefits?
It is well known that there are benefits to health from drinking wine in moderation, especially red wine. These benefits include:
- The ability to lower cholesterol within the body reducing the risk of having blood clots.
- Being a source of antioxidants, which are responsible for cleansing most of the human system.
- Lower alcohol intake means fewer calories ingested – ideal for weight-watchers.
It should be noted that to make use of these wine benefits, a healthy lifestyle must be maintained.
However, while there are these proven health benefits, it is often overlooked that alcohol is not one of them. Alcohol impairs the liver and nervous system, and burdens the body with unnecessary calories which can lead to depression. It is these calories that can be avoided by consuming low alcohol wines.
Is there a future for low alcohol wine?
Most people would be happy to drink lower alcohol wines from certain varieties so long as they tasted the same as regular wines. The white wines would not be so full and flabby as with higher alcohols, but more crisp and delicate with attractive, light fruity citrous flavours.
Cool climate winegrowing is a way forward to producing fruit with less sugar and more acid, resulting in fresh, racy wines – ideal for summer drinking or as an accompaniment to fish, chicken and spicy foods. A red wine with 11.5% abv. would not appear so heavy as its 14% or 15% counterpart, but would be just as flavoursome and drinkable without that knockout punch!
Be sensible, drink wisely.
Over the years the size of the average wine glass has got bigger in order to accommodate keen customers – and sell more wine! Drinking a large glass of a high alcohol wine can be the same as consuming perhaps three glasses of a low alcohol wine. Not good for your health, let alone your pocket.
Maybe now a low alcohol wine really is a trendy alternative as well as being better for your health. By cutting down on the alcohol, you would be reducing your calorie intake quite dramatically, so why not give it a go.