Labor Day weekend is right around the corner, which means calendars are filled to the brim with BBQs, poolside hangs, and other alfresco gatherings that call for a cold one (or three). If you’re still going strong on your New Years’ resolutions to dial it back in the booze department, then bravo — we’re all for practicing mindful drinking! But for some of us, nothing quite punctuates the end of a long day of Zoom meetings like a nice glass of wine on the deck. Totally eliminating the vino — even in the name of being health conscious — sounds, well, like a fun-suck.
Behold, a happy medium! As many of us have begun consuming with more of a wellness mindset, the low-and-no alcohol trend has revved up in a big way the past few years — and according to industry experts, it shows no signs of slowing down. “Low alcohol wines, such as pet-nats, piquettes, light reds, and light whites, are on the rise for good reasons,” says Jessica Green, certified sommelier and founder of Wine Vie. “They are easy drinking, very food friendly, and can be enjoyed and shared throughout the evening without overindulging.”
Because, truth bomb: Getting wasted on a Tuesday isn’t necessary… but on the same token, homemade shrimp scampi paired with a dry, crisp white wine just hits different. Low alcohol wine delivers all of the delicious flavors and nuances you love in a glass, with about 25% fewer calories, less alcohol, and no hangover.
How is low-alcohol wine made?
So what goes into crafting a low-alcohol and low-calorie wine? Winemaking styles play a major role here. “Certain old world wines from Italy or France typically have a lower alcohol content due to the cooler climate and shorter growing seasons,” explains Green. When grapes spend less time on the vine, they yield lower alcohol levels–and as you lower alcohol content, this results in wine with less calories.
Some winemakers utilize a “spinning cone” technology—aka, a low-vacuum distillation process that removes alcohol from a portion of the base wine while keeping the final batch wine’s flavors and aromas intact. This delivers a healthier pour that feels light on the palette and still tastes great.
If you’re ready to say “cheers” to a healthier way to enjoy vino, we’ve rounded up six low-alcohol wines that actually taste fantastic, and definitely deserve a guilt-free place at your Labor Day cookout (and beyond).
Brancott Estate Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is a great low-alcohol option because the zingy acidity and bright fruity aromas do all the talking. At only 90 calories a glass and 9% ABV, this New Zealand Sauvy is made with grapes harvested earlier than usual, resulting in a full-flavored wine that’s naturally light on the alcohol. You’re encouraged to pair a few glasses of this white with a shrimp and goat cheese salad and have yourself a Monday.
Matua Lighter: Another great Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc choice, this light white wine is made to enjoy with 25% less alcohol and calories (9% ABV). You get all of the crispness, citrus, and tropical flavors that you’d expect from a classic NZ Sauvy, but with a lighter mouthfeel and far less guilt. We’ll raise a glass to that!
Kim Crawford Illuminate Rosé: Summer may be coming to a close, but we’re of the belief that rosé season is year-round—and at only 70 calories a glass, this calls for one last bikini-and-sip moment by the pool. To break down the numbers, the spinning cone tech was applied here to reduce the base wine alcohol levels to below 1% on about 60% of the final volume; 40% of the base was then blended back, resulting in a final ABV of just 7%. It’s bright pink in color with fresh berry flavors and aromas, a dry finish, and a super-subtle effervescence.
Mezzacorona Ventessa Pinot Grigio: This new launch is naturally low in alcohol (9% ABV), sustainable, and easy drinking. No added sugars or chemical alterations here: the Italian Ventessa winds are to thank for naturally ripening the grapes faster without increasing sugar levels. The result? A crisp, fruity Pinot Grigio (think: melons and peach) that’s totally refreshing. At only 90 calories a glass, go ’head and serve this guy with chicken fingers and fried calamari.
Bota Box Breeze Red Blend: Looking for a light red wine to please a crowd? Put your pinky down: Bota Box’s take on low-cal wine is pretty good as far as boxed wines go. The grapes are harvested earlier in the season for a lower sugar content, which in turn results in less calories and carbs. This fruit-forward but not sweet red blend clocks in at only 8% ABV (and 85 calories a glass). It’s the perfect contender for slicing up some fruit and making a juicy, healthier spin on sangria.
The Family CoppolaPool House Brut Rosé: May we propose a toast to delicious sparkling wine, low calories, and no headache tomorrow? Healthy celebrations are in order for this California rosé sparkler, which only rings up at 85 cals, 9% ABV, and 1 gram of sugar. It’s light, refreshing, and bursting with red berry flavors and aromas. Essentially, we’ll be stocking the fridge of our (imaginary) pool house this weekend with bottles of this bubbly as we send summer off in style.