Low-alcohol wine is finally catching on

by Michael Cooper / 16 December, 2016
Photo/Getty Images

Courting calorie counters, wines with less than 10% alcohol have hit the shelves in the US in recent years, promoted by celebrity nutritionists and marketed under such brands as Skinnygirl. Here, such low-alcohol wines – often dubbed “lifestyle” wines – have captured 2.4% of total wine sales in supermarkets. But are they really lower in calories?

An analysis of US wines published in The Drinks Business found that the calorie savings “aren’t particularly significant”. A normal glass of white wine, containing 13.5% alcohol by volume, had 112 calories, compared with 95 calories per glass for wines in The Skinny Vine range (labelled as Slim Chardonnay, Mini Moscato and Thin Zin).

Made from early picked grapes, low-alcohol wines are typically relatively high in acidity and natural, unfermented grape sugars – hence the moderate reduction in calories. It’s also fair to say that low-alcohol wines made from such grapes as sauvignon blanc are not only lighter in alcohol, but also in flavour richness. But if you want to enjoy a glass or two at lunch, and stay clear-headed for the afternoon’s work, they could be the answer.

Wairau River Summer Marlborough Riesling 2016 ••••

Made “to be supped with frivolous frivolity”, this fresh, light-bodied wine (9.5% alc/vol) is medium-sweet, with good intensity of peachy, citrusy flavours, fresh and tangy. Delicious from the start. $20

Lindauer Enlighten Moscato Rosé •••½

This recently launched sparkling is just 8.5% alc/vol. Based on muscat grapes, it was blended with a splash of pinotage (hence its enticing, pale pink hue). Deliciously light and lively, it is unabashedly sweet, but very crisp, fruity and well balanced, in a simple but vivacious style that offers plenty of pleasure. $13

Old Coach Road Lighter in Alcohol Nelson Riesling 2015 •••

From Seifried, this is a crisp, slightly sweet wine (9.5%/vol), with vibrant, lemony, appley, limey flavours, a firm acid spine and lots of drink-young charm. $13

Villa Maria Private Bin Lighter Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 •••

Bright pink, this blend of pinot noir, arneis and merlot is light bodied (10% alc/vol), with a floral bouquet and vibrant strawberry and watermelon flavours, fresh, slightly sweet and crisp. $17

Spy Valley Easy Tiger Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 •••

Light bodied, with green-edged flavours, this wine (9%/vol) is tasty and a lot drier than most, with a hint of passionfruit, appetising acidity and even a touch of complexity (from some barrel fermentation). $18

This article was first published in the November 5, 2016 issue of the New Zealand Listener. Follow the Listener on Twitter, Facebook and sign up to the weekly newsletter.


Science must trump ideology in the GE debate
104784 2019-04-18 08:52:29Z Politics

Science must trump ideology in the GE debate

by The Listener

A New Zealand-developed super-grass that appears to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions might be blocked in this country by the Green Party.

Read more
Simon Bridges hails PM Jacinda Ardern's capital gains tax u-turn as victory
104803 2019-04-18 00:00:00Z Politics

Simon Bridges hails PM Jacinda Ardern's capital ga…

by Jo Moir

The National Party is calling the u-turn on a capital gains tax a massive failure for the Prime Minister.

Read more
John Campbell is replacing Jack Tame on TVNZ's Breakfast show
104860 2019-04-18 00:00:00Z Television

John Campbell is replacing Jack Tame on TVNZ's Bre…

by Noted

The TV network is switching things up - again.

Read more
John Lanchester’s ecological-dystopian tale about a barricaded Britain
104431 2019-04-18 00:00:00Z Books

John Lanchester’s ecological-dystopian tale about…

by Catherine Woulfe

The Wall may be speculative fiction, but it feel like it's just round the corner.

Read more
Why we should take care when we talk about drug side effects
104426 2019-04-18 00:00:00Z Psychology

Why we should take care when we talk about drug si…

by Marc Wilson

If we find that up to 10% of people report insomnia after taking Panadol, does that mean it was a side effect of the drug?

Read more
Capital Gains Tax debate should have been a godsend for Simon Bridges
104754 2019-04-17 00:00:00Z Politics

Capital Gains Tax debate should have been a godsen…

by Bevan Rapson

Talk of a capital gains tax hits a particular nerve, but changing the tax system doesn’t always have to be like pulling teeth.

Read more
Government abandons capital gains tax plan
104759 2019-04-17 00:00:00Z Politics

Government abandons capital gains tax plan

by Noted

No consensus was reached over the capital gains tax recommendation.

Read more
How tough is it for the middle class in New Zealand?
104675 2019-04-17 00:00:00Z Social issues

How tough is it for the middle class in New Zealan…

by Pattrick Smellie

Money worries have set off a wave of populist politics in most Western democracies, but not here. Pattrick Smellie investigates why.

Read more