Let’s face it: There are things that Europeans just do better than us Americans. Cheese, chocolate, day-drinking… wait, what? Yep, day-drinking. We’re not talking about the day-drinking you’re thinking of, the one that takes place on Saturday afternoons where you begin pounding beers at 11 a.m. No, we’re talking about everyday day-drinking. Classy day drinking, if you will. For some reason, Americans are convinced that drinking alcohol before 5 p.m. is lush or problematic. While we agree that if you’re tapping into straight vodka at 1 p.m. there may be a problem, what’s wrong with a casual beer or glass of wine at lunch? Look around at lunchtime in Prague, Berlin, or Paris, and nearly everyone is sipping on a sudsy pint or glass of vin blanc with their salads and sandwiches.
While getting your French on and starting to incorporate alcohol into your lunchtime routine, we recommend sticking with light beers and lower-alcohol wines to keep your head in check upon your office return. Here are some of our favorite low-alcohol wines to integrate into your lunchtime regimen.
In advocating for lunchtime wine, we’re also big supporters of everyday bubbly. In other words, there doesn’t have to be a lunchtime celebration for Prosecco to be appropriate. Prosecco is a light, easy-drinking choice, and pairs nicely with salads, soft cheeses, and a variety of vegetables.
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This slightly effervescent white wine from Portugal is high in acid and low in alcohol — a perfect afternoon refresher. If having seafood or salads for lunch, this wine is the ideal pairing. This spritzy selection will bring your taste buds back to life without depleting your energy level.
Can’t decide between bubbles and red? You don’t have to! Lambrusco is a fun and frothy way to jazz up your lunch hour. This frizzante-style wine is both full of flavor and low in alcohol. And it goes perfectly with Friday pizza.
For a significantly lower alcohol content, check out the effervescent wines of Piedmont. A glass of Moscato is a sweet and delicious touch to the end of a lunchtime meal with friends. Brachetto d’Acqui appears in both still and frizzante forms, though this sweet red generally tends to be on the fizzy and sweet side.
Craving red? A light and fruit-forward Gamay-based wine (think Beaujolais) is the perfect lunchtime wine. The ABVs on these babies can go as low as 9.5 percent, though they’re generally in the 11 to 12 percent range. Fresh and fruity, Gamay-based wines are ideal for chicken, vegetables, and 12 noon.
Before you go hating on Riesling, it’s important to understand that Riesling comes in a range of styles, from bone dry to sugary sweet. Stick with German Rieslings, specifically kabinett, spatlese, and auslese (the last two are sweeter). Pair with Asian cuisine and spicy sauces.
This French white is perfect for salads and seafood outings. Hailing from the Loire Valley and crafted from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, the wines are crisp and easy drinking. These wines generally clock in between 11 and 12 percent ABV, a bit higher than the others. Bonus: Muscadets are generally one of the inexpensive options on a restaurant wine list. We’ll drink to that, no matter what time of day!