With all the attention given to healthier lifestyles and foods, it’s no surprise this also is a concern in the drinks world. The big news recently has been the popularity of hard seltzers and their lower alcohol levels.
Now, wines low in alcohol, sugar and calories are emerging to present themselves as healthier alternatives for the calorie conscious. For the most part, this is just marketing — wine’s answer to the hard seltzers. While there are things you can do in the vineyard to yield the desired result, most of these wines are manipulated in the cellar.
I prefer naturally low alcohol wines like German riesling. Slightly sweet wines come in at 8% to 9% alcohol, off-dry ones around 11% and dry wines at 12%. Most table wines these days have 13% to 15% alcohol. Depending on your preference, all are ideal refreshers for the summer heat: crisp, juicy and balanced. They also are attractive for the budget-conscious.
Here, I offer wines to satisfy your preference from four of the best producers in the famed Mosel River Valley and a top Rheingau producer. These are classic, light-bodied rieslings that help you drink healthy while still enjoying a real product of nature — something grown, not manufactured.
These dry wines will give you about 120 calories per 5-ounce glass.
• 2019 Dr. L Dry ($12), juicy green apple, spicy-steely finish.
• 2019 Dr. Loosen Red Slate ($18), name refers to its soils; brisk-tart lime, green apple.
• 2019 Maximin Grünhäus MAXiMiN ($16), round, citrus, apple, steely, spicy.
• 2019 Robert Weil Trocken ($20) ,from the Rheingau; detailed, peach, citrus, mineral.
These off dry wines have about ten fewer calories.
• 2019 Fritz Haag Estate ($20), fresh apple, lightly spicy.
• 2019 Zilliken Butterfly ($22), like biting into a ripe Granny Smith apple.
• 2019 Robert Weil Tradition ($20), brisk grapefruit, lemon, mineral.
These slightly sweet wines come in about 100 calories.
• 2019 Zilliken Estate ($22), lively, mineral, spicy citrus, apricot.
• 2020 Dr. L Riesling ($12), apple peach, racy, elegant.
• 2019 Clean Slate ($12), light, round, lemon, green apple, peach.
Finally, also in the slightly sweet category, are Kabinett wines. While their higher price requires more commitment, these single vineyard wines are more distinctively complex.
• 2019 Maximin Grünhäus Herrenberg ($34), amazingly bright, delicate, defined, flinty, tangy, citrus, peach, tangerine.
• 2019 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer ($26), intense, brisk, citrus, apple, stony, lushly elegant.
• 2019 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr ($28), aromatic, crisp, pure apple, citrus, peach, spicy, mineral.
As a bonus, all these wines are ideal for the lighter foods of summer: sushi, shellfish, grilled fish, as well as most Asian and chicken dishes, and even spicy foods.