Looking for flavour without the high alcohol kick? Here are some fantastic drinks that fit the bill perfectly
There was a time when low alcohol drinks meant low in flavour and, as a result, low in appeal. But there’s now a fresh new take on ‘light’ beverages, thanks in part to growing health awareness, and the stricter drink-driving laws enacted late last year.
There is now a wide range of lower alcohol wines on the market. They’re fresh and full of oomph, but won’t send you sideways like some of their higher alcohol counterparts.
Kiwi winemakers are experimenting with an assortment of techniques to keep the alcohol by volume (ABV) in their beverages down, without having to sacrifice quality and flavour. And since that’s exactly what the people of New Zealand are looking for, lower alcohol beverages are quickly gaining a fan base.
We take a look at labels leading the way.
1. Brancott Estate Flight Range – 9% ABV (RRP$17.99)
This lower alcohol wine range took flight in summer 2012. Even before its official release the Sauvignon Blanc snapped up gold at the 2012 New Zealand International Wine Show and set the tone for the rest of the range.
“We wanted to deliver all the aroma, ripe flavours and palate weight that people have come to know and love about Marlborough wines,” says Chief Winemaker, Patrick Materman.
The Brancott Estate team harvests the grapes early to ensure lower sugar levels, resulting in lower alcohol levels during fermentation. Their understanding of the grapes’ flavour profile means they can achieve delicious, full-flavoured wines that are naturally lighter.
The range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rosé and Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc.
2. Villa Maria Private Bin Light Pinot Gris 2014 – 9% ABV (RRP$16.99)
Villa Maria has captured the light, easy drinking character of lower alcohol whites in the Private Bin Light Pinot Gris. With only nine per cent alcohol, this wine displays floral aromas, soft lime citrus notes and a lightweight feel in the mouth. It also has fewer calories than a fully-fledged Pinot Gris.
Villa Maria’s Private Bin Light range also includes Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé.
3. Peter Yealands Light Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – 9% ABV (RRP$14.99)
Sustainable winegrowing is at the heart of all Peter Yealands’ wines. The Lighter Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc combines his environmentally-friendly ethos with full flavour and just nine per cent alcohol, which is 25 per cent lighter than the standard Sauvignon Blanc. A long, cool ferment in stainless steel captures the intense gooseberry and passionfruit elements, giving the wine a crisp, refreshing tang.
4. Forrest The Doctors’ Riesling 2014 – 8.5% ABV (RRP$19.99)
In 1998, doctors John and Brigid Forrest ditched their lab coats and moved back to Marlborough to start the boutique wine label, Forrest. With backgrounds in molecular biology and medicine, the couple adopted an innovative approach to winemaking.
Alternative winemaking techniques and select parcels of fruit are behind The Doctors’ range, and the Riesling has achieved cult-like status on the New Zealand wine scene. With notes of Granny Smith apple, lime sherbet and apricot, this wine clocks in at just 8.5 per cent due to early harvest and cool, slow ferment.
5. Brown Brothers Cienna 2013 – 6.5% ABV (RRP$15.99)
The winemakers at Australia’s Brown Brothers have conquered the difficult task of producing a reduced alcohol red wine. They used new grape variety Cienna, a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sumoll, a Spanish grape. At just 6.5 per cent, this wine is rich and juicy with aromas of red berry fruit, a hint of spice and is slightly spritzy with a refreshing finish.
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