THE LOWER the alcohol percentage of the wine that you drink, the less you’ll feel the consequences the following day. Low alcohol wines can be a wise choice, but are there any real benefits?
Most afternoon barbecues roll on into the evening, so it’s worth putting some thought into the ABV (‘Alcohol by Volume’) of the wine you’ll be drinking. After a few glasses on a hot summer’s day, the small difference between 12 and 14 per cent can have a big impact how you’re going to feel the next morning.
More or less, the alcohol level of wine is linked to the amount of sugar which the grapes contain when they’re harvested. The higher the sugar, the higher the potential for alcohol, which is why warm climates like Argentina and Australia, are often associated with high-alcohol red wines (13.5 to 16 percent).
A counter-trend toward low-ABV wines is bubbling away, though, driven by people wanting to rein back on the units they consume for health or weight reasons (the higher the alcohol, the higher the calories).
One in four people now cite ABV as an influence in the wine they choose and, as a result, companies are producing low-ABV spin-off ranges, such as First Cape’s ‘Cafe’ Collection (5.5 per cent) or Jacob’s Creek’s ‘Cool Harvest’ (9.5 to 11 per cent).
Northern, high altitude, and cooler regions tend to be the source of low-ABV wines, and where global trends have seen many percentages of alcohol creep up, certain sparkling wines produced in Northern Italy – such as Moscato d’Asti – has stayed around the 6 per cent mark without any loss of quality.