Maybe you’re nervously clutching your first green drink, or maybe you’ve decided to re-toxify it like the unapologetic hedonist you are. Either way, a bunch of us are uncomfortably straddling the seasonal scrupulosity of obligatory detox.
If you’re holding fast to the green drink and gummy vitamins, more power. If you’ve decided to forego the month, keep drinking, and just meet up with your cleansed friends again in February, then by all means, you do you. But, if you’re doing the “sort of” detox—which we take to mean a conscientious decrease in “cheez” products and alcohol— the wines below should help you out.
Unlike bold, broad-shouldered, big alcohol wines, these are lighter, sometimes sweeter, generally juicier and fruitier (more often white) wines. Not always apt for frigid days, but assuming you’re staying inside this winter, even cold weather climate dwellers should enjoy finding a mild buzz in the wines here, which range from 5% to about 13% (just at the edge of “heavy”).
Bear in mind, most lower ABV reds are going to be lower in tannin and more forward in fruit, “juiciness,” and acidity (all of which are really interwoven elements). Not uncomplicated wines, but not something you’ll want to pair with a rich stew or a complex, spicy meal. Easy (virtuous) drinking.
Ceretto Moscato d’Asti Vignaioli Di Santo Stefano 2014 – LOWEST ABV OVERALL
Don’t be afraid. Moscato, sure, but nothing so cloyingly sweet as, well, a lot of what you’ll find out there. Golden hued with lush fruit, a fairly rich body, and yes, some sweetness, but it’s brightened by a gentle acidity. The lowest end of the ABV spectrum, at just 5%.
Made with 100% Chardonnay, but nothing like the low-cost California oak-and-butter bombs you’re by now terrified of. Rather, you’ll get a restrained use of oak here, with a nice balance of acidity, delicate citrus, and a pleasantly drying nuttiness. About 13% ABV.
A Spanish varietal, Albariños tend to be dry, citrusy, and refreshingly bright, and this is no exception. An ideal pairing wine, with a softness to balance the vigorous acidity, and only 12.5% ABV for all that complexity.
If you haven’t gotten into Pinot Gris, this is a great starter bottle. Low in ABV—just 12%—you get lots of lush complexity, from orchard flavors and florals to a complex herbaceousness and minerality, like an herb garden sprawling over rocks.
Weingut Clemens Busch Riesling Trocken – LOWEST ABV WHITE
From a German winery that’s both biodynamic and 100% organic comes a dry Riesling that does its best to express the land itself, with supple fruit, modest acidity, and a graceful minerality. All at under 11%ABV.
Zweigelt—the most widely planted red grape in Austria—deserves a bigger following, and a bottle like this should do it. From a vineyard rich with gravel, you’ll get a bright red wine with classic cherry notes peppered through with a delicate spice. Just 12.5% ABV, light in the glass but exciting.
Made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape, with subtle floral aromatics (think violets and lilac), followed up with full—but not overpowering—berry notes and a smooth finish. Modestly rich at 12.5% ABV, and absolutely ready to pair.
2010 Fontanafredda “GiA” Langhe Rosso – LOWEST ABV RED
Like many lighter alcohol reds, this bottle has forward fruit that isn’t in-your-face. From a blend of Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo, you get bright red cherry fruits that dry out but don’t die out. At 10.5% ABV, it’s a bit dangerously easy for gulping, ruining (or really fulfilling) your Fauxtox.
A red French Burgundy made with Gamay, so you’ll get lots of the juicy, almost Jell-O like fruitiness you’d expect from (over-hyped) Beaujolais Nouveau. But this wine doesn’t shout about itself. It just expresses light red fruits—more cherry, some strawberry, maybe a hint of currant. Subtle tannins and subtle booze—just 12.5%.