Moderation is crucial, whether you drink for a living or are simply keeping your intake in check. Wine generally clocks in around 11.5 to 13.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), though some bottles climb up to 20 percent.
Thankfully, there are many top-notch, low-alcohol wines available worldwide. We asked 12 wine professionals to share their favorites.
“Most Austrian Zweigelts are light reds, relatively low ABV, and yet no compromise on how refreshing they taste… An easy-to drink-option when you are ready to call it a day.” — Kavitha Raghavan, Owner and Sommelier, Indian Paradox, San Francisco
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“Any German Kabinett Riesling! At SakaMai, we offer the Maximin Grünhaus Riesling Kabinett Abtsberg, and at 8.5 percent ABV, it is a great option for guests who are looking for a low-alcohol beverage to pair with their meal.” — Karen Lin, General Manager and Beverage Director, Bar Moga and SakaMai, NYC
“We recently placed a Txakoli from the Ameztoi family on the wine list… These wines are picked very young and contain some CO2 when bottled. They are light, very crisp, slightly spritzy and low alcohol.” — Jamel Freeman, Wine Director, Bellemore, Chicago
“Albariño is my favorite low-alcohol wine. It has refreshing acidity, salinity, and tons of fresh fruit flavors on the palate. It is definitely my go-to for warm days on the patio. Being close to the ocean in Rias Baixas, they make wines that pair well with light appetizers and seafood. You can enjoy with friends and not worry as much about overindulging.” — James Nelson, Beverage Director, BLT Steak DC, Washington, D.C.
“One of my favorite low-alcohol wines is Vignalta’s Fior d’Arancio. Fior d’Arancio is, essentially, the Venetian cousin of Moscato d’Asti, except it has more peach and orange blossom notes. It is semi-sweet, semi-sparkling, and sits at about 5 percent ABV, so you can enjoy the whole bottle guilt-free over a full day of spring cleaning. We use the wine often on the pairing menu at Lazy Bear as we transition into our first dessert course. It’s refreshing and resets the palate after some intense savory courses, and it provides just enough sweetness to match the dessert without overwhelming it … and does so without the stigma of (cue music) ‘Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante.’” — Matthew Dulle, Beverage Director, Lazy Bear, San Francisco
“A Kabinett Riesling tends to have lower alcohol levels (in the 8 to 10 percent range) and are often made in an off-dry style. It is made from the grapes that are the least ripe, producing the lightest style of Riesling wine.” — Alvaro Umano, Beverage Director, O-Ku DC, Washington, D.C.
“My favorite low-alcohol wines are Txakolis! These are fresh, zippy, apple-y white wines from the Basque region of Spain that are perfect for patio drinking, lighter lunch food, especially seafood, and just general any-time-of-day wine enjoyment. The alcohol never goes higher than 11.5 percent, and the wines from the Getariako region of Txakoli tend to have a little spritz, which can be fun and balance the dryness and acidity.” — Gretchen Thomas, VP of Beverage, Del Frisco’s Grille, Nationwide
“Max Ferdinand Richter Riesling (2007). 8.5 percent ABV. We currently have it on our wine list and it is super crushable with some spicy hummus and pita. I am always a fan of Riesling for a low-ABV option, especially for date night paired with some nice spicy Thai food or a seafood boil.” — Kristine Muller, Wine Director, Galit, Chicago
“I think the varietal Txakoli is the best. It’s a citrusy, naturally semi-sparkling white wine, perfect for opening up your palate before a meal.” — George Duval, Beverage Consultant, Open Bar Hospitality, DeKalb Market Hall, Brooklyn
“For a lower-alcohol wine, my go-to is actually a wine alternative from Eve’s Cidery in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Their Albee Hill bottling is a still, dry cider coming in at a refreshing 7 percent alcohol. This cider drinks like a wine with laser-like acidity, notes of ripe orchard peach, beeswax, and green herbs all riding on a wave of wet river stones.” — Jeremy Halker, Sommelier, DBGB DC, Washington, D.C.
“I’ll often reach for a Kabinett-style Riesling from a quality producer. The alcohol levels are lower, but you can expect some residual sugar, so perfect with all the spicy food I adore.” — Anncherie Saludo, Beverage Director, L’Artusi, NYC
“Does vermouth count? I’ve been known to order many a Dolin Blanc and soda in my day. With a wedge of citrus, you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying aperitif. If we’re talking strictly wine, I love the Turbullent Sparkling Gamay from Domaine Serol. It’s the punchiest shade of pink, is only 9 percent, and pairs beautifully with anything spicy and summer-y.” — Paulina Schemanski, Sommelier, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, Mich.