The best low-alcohol wines

The sommelier Sandia Chang on why moderation is the key to surviving and thriving this January

Detail from an illustration by Daniel Hernandez for Honoré de Balzac’s ‘The County Doctor’

Our favourite part-time hobby – ‘Dry January’ – is now upon us. When our body and liver cannot physically handle any more late-night parties, towers of champagne or exotic cocktails, it is normal that we just want to have a break from it all. You don’t need to go cold turkey, however – it’s all about moderation. There are some great naturally crafted wines with a lower alcohol percentage (less than 10% ABV) that allow you to indulge without suffering the consequences the next day. Since sugar is what yeast converts into alcohol, many of these wines have a residual sweetness, but made properly, they are like well-balanced cocktails.

Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany (8.5% alcohol)

Due to their natural high acidity, Rieslings tend to balance out nicely with the residual sugar so are a good place to start if you’re looking for a lower-alcohol wine. Selbach-Oster is an old-school institution of German Rieslings, and the Kabinett is the lightest style with the lowest sweetness level – it is a slate bowl of limes, Granny Smith apples, mint, Meyer lemons and nectarines. The best thing about Rieslings is that they pair well with everything, from fish and meat to cheese and dessert. £18.30, Gerrard Seel

Vietti, Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta, Piedmont, Italy (5.5% alcohol)

We shouldn’t disregard Moscato d’Asti just because it isn’t champagne. Vietti is one of my favourite traditional producers from the Piemonte area of Italy, and its Moscato is exactly what you need when you want some light happiness in your mouth – it’s beautifully perfumed with peaches, pears and a slight sweetness of honeysuckle. Contrary to what people might pair Moscato with, I like it with salty cheese and charcuterie, or as an alternative to champagne with brunch. £15.99, All About Wines

Jean-Paul Thevenet, On Pete La Soif, Beaujolais, France (7.5% alcohol)

Thevenet is one the best-known artisanal Beaujolais producers that forefronted the organic and biodynamic movement in Beaujolais. This Gamay is a sparkling thirst-quencher, packed with juicy strawberries, bouquets of fresh field flowers and lovely earthy notes. It is also made with very little sulphur, which means no headache tomorrow! £19, Roberson Wines

***

MORE WINE REVIEWS

Wines with bubbles

Blue wine: fad or fixture?

Natural wine or nature wine?