Sometimes, you just need something light and refreshing — wine’s answer to the session beer, if you will. There are lots of options that offer an approachable combination of lower alcohol by volume (ABV) and lively flavor. Check these out the next time you want the complexity of wine without the next-day headache.
A family of wines coming out of the Veneto region of northern Italy, Fior d’Arancio is essentially an offshoot of Moscato. Bright acidity is balanced out by some residual sugar for an even wine with about as much alcohol as an IPA. Try it slightly chilled with pastries or add it to your next weekend brunch lineup.
ABV: Typically 7 or 8%
Kelley Fox Wines 2017 Maresh Vineyard Pinot Noir
After a string of hot vintages, 2017 offers a refreshing change of pace to the Willamette Valley vintage chart. A cooler growing season means less sugar in the fruit and therefore lower alcohol content. This wine from outstanding winemaker Kelley Fox is elegant and full of life, great as a solo sipper or when served alongside fresh salmon.
A subtly effervescent wine hailing from the Basque Country, Txakoli is as fun to drink as it is to say. It tends to be zesty and briny, with a light body and an often 10% or less ABV mark. Txakoli has long been the go-to around ceviche, but also try it with fresh oysters or an order of fish and chips. Serve it straight-out-of-the-fridge cold.
ABV: About 10%
Teutonic Wine Company 2018 Alsea Blanc
Urban Portland winery Teutonic is known for both cool-climate and relatively low-ABV wine offerings. The Alsea Blanc is a real beaut, a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier that is somehow tart, savory, and creamy. It’s the product of a winemaker who loves experimentation and unique flavors about as much as he loves music (link).
The French invented Rose and the Provence style is model citizen number one. Pale in color but full of flavor, it tends to be lower-octane, and offers refreshing melon and berry flavors and all kinds of flexibility in terms of pairing with food. They’re dry and full of minerality.
ABV: Usually 12%
Zweigelt is a bit like Gamay, an Austrian red that’s typically tart and juicy. It’s a great example of northern Europe’s tendency to produce wonderfully fresh vines without the hangover. No wonder it’s the most planted red grape in Austria. Enjoy it with some mild cheeses or a summery grilled chicken salad.
ABV: About 11 or 12%
Empire Estate 2017 Dry Riesling
Drinking Riesling is always an experience, its immediately perceptible aromatics often exploding out of the glass. This one from Finger Lakes fruit in New York is well-rounded with a fairly modest ABV, as is typical with the variety. In terms of flavor, it’s flinty, with plenty of apple and lemon characteristics. Try it with seared scallops or a simple and ever-satisfying BLT.
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