Tips for Finding Light Wine

Here are three ways to track down delicious wines that are refreshingly moderate in alcohol.
2008 St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling. Photo courtesy of St. Urbans-Hof Estate.
2008 St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling. Photo courtesy of St. Urbans-Hof Estate.

1. Look for Off-Dry Whites

Wines with a hint of sweetness tend to have less alcohol than totally dry wines, because a small amount of their sugar hasn’t been fermented. The classic example is Riesling from Germany, as long as it isn’t designated trocken (dry).

Bottles to Look For

2008 St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling ($17)

2007 Selbach-Oster Riesling-Kabinett ($23)

2007 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett ($27)

2. Try Wines from Cool Climates

Grapes grown in cooler climates, like upstate New York’s Finger Lakes and France’s Bordeaux and Champagne regions, tend to develop less sugar than those grown in warmer areas, resulting in lower-alcohol wines.

Bottles to Look For

2007 Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Gewürztraminer ($19)

2007 Château Graville-Lacoste Graves ($21)

NV Laurent-Perrier Brut ($45)

3. Buy Lighter Grape Varieties

Some grapes can produce flavorful wines at low sugar levels. Gamay, Sémillon (when not used for dessert wines) and Trebbiano tend to be light in body, high in acidity and low in alcohol.

Bottles to Look For

2008 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($16)

2006 Cataldi Madonna Trebbiano d’Abruzzo ($18)

2007 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées L’Ancien Vieilles Vignes (Gamay) ($18)

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PUBLISHED August 2009

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