Low Alcohol Wines For Holiday Imbibing
When the days are shorter but the festivities are longer, turn to these low ABV wines for holiday drinking that won’t send you under the table by the end of the night.
The arrival of Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the holiday season, which also serves to signal the beginning of a season filled with drinking. From office parties to weekend soirées, there will certainly be a glass in hand until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day (and probably a bit after that, if we’re honest). In order to sip your wine and remember it, too, it’s a good idea to turn to wines that are still full in flavor, but lower in alcohol.
Most wines clock in between 11.5 percent and 14.5 percent ABV, though that level can be as low as 5 percent and as high as 22 percent. The alcohol content of a wine depends on the grape, the region in which it was grown, and the style of wine itself. White wines tend to be lower in alcohol, on average, than reds, and grapes tend to amass less sugar, and therefore, alcohol, in cooler climates. Unfortified wines with residual sugar tend to be lower in alcohol, as the wine’s sugar has not been entirely converted into alcohol, and most sparkling wines tend to contain 12.5 percent ABV or less as well.
It’s easy enough to scan labels at the local wine shop for alcohol percentages, but to make things easier, here are eight picks for low-alcohol, holiday-friendly wines of all colors and styles.
Try These Eight Low ABV Wines
Cheurlin Thomas ‘Célébrité’ Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne, France ($80)
Champagne, with its cool, marginal climate, rarely exceeds 12 or 12.5 percent ABV, even when it is fermented completely dry. This Blanc de Blancs combines the chalky minerality that is so indicative of the Champagne region with richness and round fruit flavors. And it won Double Gold in the 2018 NY International Wine Competition!
The Chook Sparkling Shiraz NV, South Australia, Australia ($18)
The perfect option for those who want the flavors of red wine but the festivity of sparkling, this sparkling Shiraz is dark and dry, with black cherry fruit and plenty of wet earth. Slight spice and floral tones brighten up the intense fruit. (Editor’s note: For other red sparkling options, please see our article on Lambrusco and other low ABV red-hued bubblies here.) ‘
Aveleda Vinho Verde 2017, Minho, Portugal ($10)
The cool, rainy Minho region in northwestern Portugal is naturally geared towards light, acid-driven wines, but these bottles need not solely be relegated towards warm, summertime temperatures. Citrus-driven and effervescent, this Vinho Verde is versatile and easy-drinking.
Dr. Loosen ‘Blue Slate’ Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany ($20)
Riesling can range from light to full and dry to sweet, but German versions, particularly from the Mosel, tend to be great, low alcohol options. Though it has a good amount of residual sugar, it is balanced by bright acidity and distinct minerality, making it a great pairing for creamy or spicy dishes.
Vietti ‘Cascinetta’ Moscato d’Asti 2017, Piedmont, Italy ($15)
This is Moscato d’Asti done right, with a delicate sweetness and slight sparkle that almost begs the drinker to sip it through a straw. While it’s a natural pairing for desserts—especially apple pie—it contrasts nicely against strong, savory dishes as well.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2018, Beaujolais, France ($12)
A Thanksgiving staple, Beaujolais tends towards lower alcohol, particularly when it is bottled as a young vin de primeur. This Beaujolais Villages Nouveau is darker and more structured than the average Nouveau, but it maintains the juicy, peppy fruit that is characteristic of the style.
Onward Wines ‘Cerise Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, California ($60)
Pinot Noir is variable, depending on the region in which it is produced. This cool Anderson Valley vineyard sees huge temperature swings, producing a wine that is both perfectly ripe and incredibly savory, making it quite food-friendly. Hints of dew-dropped roses and mint accent ripe red cherries, and the palate is salty, with a lightness that dances off the tongue and cleanses both body and mind.
Domaine Glinavos Vlahiko 2013, Zitsa, Greece ($23)
From the mountainous Epirus region in northwestern Greece, this rare grape variety creates an earthy, cranberry-laden wine lifted by the area’s high altitude vineyards. While it’s an offbeat wine, the flavors are entirely friendly.