Curious Case - January 2022 - Wine without the headache
For this month's curious case, we are looking at wines you can enjoy without the headaches (and the calorie count). While a few percentage points don't feel like a lot, the slight drop in alcohol content can be the difference between waking up feeling fresh and a morning headache…
It can also be the difference between 400 calories a bottle and 1000 calories a bottle. "Wine alcohol is directly related to the amount of sugar available during fermentation." The higher the sugar level, the higher the potential alcohol level. Depending on the wine, one glass of wine can range between 92-300 calories depending on the alcohol content, the wine's inherent sweetness, and the serving size.
While there seems to be a sudden influx of new wine brands offering lower-abv versions of Cabernet, Chardonnay and the like, rest assured, you don't need to abandon "real" bottles to find low-ABV options, as our January Curious Case will show you!
Whilst alcohol content can be manipulated during the winemaking process, either naturally or manually, the sugar levels in the grape at the time of harvest are usually the best indicator of a wine's potential strength. There are three critical determining factors of sugar content in a grape: climate, altitude and varietal. According to sources, grapes grown in moderate to cooler climates or higher altitudes don't ripen as quickly as their warm climate cousins, resulting in lower sugar levels.
As a rule, higher-calorie wines tend to have higher alcohol content. This is because alcohol has seven calories per gram versus carbohydrates, with four calories per gram. This means some sweet wines have fewer calories than some dry wines.
Champagne and Sparkling wines have sugar and alcohol added during the winemaking process. The added amount is called 'le dosage'. The dosage can range from nothing, aka "Brut Nature" to sweet aka "Doux", with up to 50g of sugar per litre. Whilst the laws in the Champagne region in France require the wines to be no more than 12.5% alcohol, non-Champagne bubbly ranges from very light, at around 9% alcohol, to high, at 15% alcohol.
Typical examples of Low-ABV wines are Riesling, Vinho Verde, French Gamay and Moscato. These examples will get you started, but limitless options are waiting to be discovered as our Curious Case shows. Low-Alcohol doesn't have to mean less complexity, less variety or less deliciousness!
As you continue to explore with our January Curious Case, you'll find that there is a bottle for every occasion.
• Ponte Pietra Merlot-Corvina
• Norman Hardie Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula
• Vila Nova Vinho Verde
• COS Frappato
• Bernardi Prosecco Frizzante NV
• Domaine de Menard Cuvee Marine, Cotes de Gascogne Blanc
Wine Without the Headache Curious Case