It’s counterintuitive; why buy a bottle of wine – fermented grape juice – with the alcohol (which bestows such wonderful flavours and aromas as well as the feel-good factor) extracted?
Why not just buy refreshing elderflower pressé or local apple juice (or, indeed, grape juice)? They’re far cheaper.
I say this after sampling the new Aldi Featherweight wines (£2.99, 5.5 per cent) and Tesco’s recently launched Low-Alcohol wine range (£3, 0.5 per cent). They’re not horrid, but all suffer from being too sweet and seem a little peculiar in texture, like a syrupy, squashy version of wine.
The Torres Natureo trio of Spanish low-alcohol wines (£5.99, 0.5 per cent, Waitrose) are much better and I quite like the off-dry German white Leitz Eins Zwei Zero (0 per cent, Waitrose), but note this is £6.99.
So if you’re not doing dry January but want to be healthier this month, simply pick naturally lighter wines at under 12 per cent abv.
These mainly come from cool-climate areas and are made with grapes like riesling, which achieve relatively low alcohol levels. Mostly they are white and sparkling – it’s hard to produce a tempting red at below 11 per cent.
Happily, these sort of crisp, fresh wines marry well with salads, green vegetables and fish. Just the kind of healthy food to tuck into now, after all that feasting.
So I’m pouring the three below, and their like, over the next few weeks. Let’s call it a ‘damp’ January.
Wine Atlas Fetasca Regala NV, Romania Asda, £5.00
Here’s a different dry but soft Romanian white with delicious melon and pear flavours and a hint of aromatic rose water. Goes well with lightly spiced vegetarian stir-fries. 11.5 per cent
Winemakers’ Selection Vinho Verde, Portugal Sainsbury’s, £5
A simple, but zesty and easy-going dry white from northern Portugal, its subtle spritz a perfect, crisp foil for little fried and oily fish such as fresh sardines or whitebait. 9 per cent
Dr Wagner Riesling 2015, Mosel, Germany Waitrose, £8.99
Rieslings from Germany’s cool Mosel region are arguably the best naturally light whites of all; this makesamouthwatering aperitif with its juicy apple streak, off-dry, and only 7.5 per cent.