The tradition is now set in our national psyche. Distancing ourselves from the gluttonous festive season and hurling ourselves into a health kick. January it seems is all about punishing ourselves for December excesses, whether it be Dry January, giving up on sugar or signing up for a gym membership you’ll still be paying for in October under the laboured belief you will return despite your 5-month hiatus.
The New Year brings with it contemplation and an idea of the kind of life you want to live over the next 12 months. I’m certainly not against cutting back or looking after yourself better, I just prefer to not cut out everything that brings joy. Wine brings joy. I believe talking to customers about less of better is the way to go, a smaller glass of a great wine. A smaller glass, however, is not always the answer and there is a second way to go, more of less.
In the list below I’ve select 5 wines from our range with an ABV of less than 10%, these wines make great alternative options for customers taking it steady this month. Offering a lower ABV option, perhaps as a guest wine keeps your range fresh and topical this January. This list is of course not extensive, there are plenty more lower ABV wines to discover. German Riesling, Muscadet and Italian sparkling wines usually fit the bill. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or alternatively let us know what you’ll be drinking this month.
Codorníu Zero, Alcohol-Free Sparkling Wine
Starting the New Year and this list with a sparkler. Codorníu introduced its de-alcoholised sparkling wine in 2010 building upon the innovative flair that brought us the first 100% Pinot Noir Rosé Cava a few years earlier. The alcohol is gently removed by a state-of-the-art vacuum distillation system at low temperatures.
This process is designed to minimise any loss of flavour that may occur. Tasting the wine you understand how well this system has worked; despite being less than 0.5% alcohol by volume it’s packed with sweet tropical fruit and blossom notes. The fresh sweet tropical fruit reappears on a rich, fruity palate that also contains apple and citrus flavours provided by the Airen grape variety.
Loosen Bros Dr L Riesling, Mosel
The Riesling grapes used to make this 8.5% wine come exclusively from traditional vineyards with steep slopes and slate soils. Situated on Germany’s Mosel River the Dr Loosen estate has been in the same family for more than 200 years. When Ernst Loosen took the reins in 1988 he built upon the family history and vines averaging 60 years old to create stunningly intense, world-class Rieslings.
Produced using the sustainable practices Ernst Loosen has implemented at the estate, this fresh and light wine has the classic Mosel raciness. It’s a very refreshing, medium sweet wine and showing citrus fruits such as grapefruit and lime with mineral notes and a touch of spritz on the finish.
Natureo Syrah Torres
This year, Spanish winery Torres returned to the number one slot in Drinks International’s ‘The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands’ survey. Under the guidance of “one of Spain’s most innovative and influential winemakers”, company president Miguel A. Torres, the family winery is now the largest in Spain.
The success of the winery is largely down to an unrivalled attention to detail in all they do, evident when they set about producing a range of de-alcoholised wines. The Natureo wines cover a Muscat, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé and the wine I’ve selected, the 0.5% ABV Natureo Syrah. Made with 100% Syrah grapes; a part of this wine is aged in French oak for four to six months before de-alcoholisation using the ‘Spinning Cone’ technique. The result is a wine that shows lovely, lively hedgerow fruit on a well-balanced and juicy palate.
Willi Opitz Opitz One Schilfwein, Burgenland
Willi Opitz is one of the most interesting men in wine. A ‘weekend winemaker’ with a small vineyard, in 1995, he left his career in order to devote himself to wine. We’re delighted with the choice he made. Today, he cultivates around 17 hectares and produces about 30 wines although his cultivation methods remain similar, totally focused on quality.
Willi is famous for developing 'reed wines' in 1989: healthy grapes are left to age for at least three months on reed mats, the finished wine is called Schilfwein. this 9.5% ABV wine is a Schilfwein, the Zweigelt grapes being dried for at least six months on reed mats prior to fermentation, the yields are incredibly low (seven hectolitres per hectare) about a quarter of the yield of a top Sauternes. Drinking this wine puts you in good company, not only is it a Gold Sommelier Wine Award winner but was enjoyed by Bill Clinton who met Willi on a visit to Austria.
Béres Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos
To finish, as should be a legal requirement with any meal out, is a Tokaji. Tokaji is the great sweet wine of Hungary and is made predominantly using the Furmint grape variety. In 1730, long before classification systems were employed in Portugal and France to guarantee the pedigree of the wine, they were instigated in Hungary specifically for this regal wine.
It is incredibly sweet, with around 150 g/l residual sugar offering true indulgence (there must be some indulgence in these dark winter months). This wine spends two years maturing in oak barrels and at 10% is the highest ABV wine on this list, but it's well worth it. Packed flavours of dried apricot, fig and lime sit alongside a fabulous balancing acidity that leaves the palate refreshed
You can find more information about our range of wines here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.