If you’re looking to reduce your alcohol intake this summer – without going completely ‘dry’ – it’s worth taking a look at some lower alcohol wine options.
These typically run from 6%-11% and include wines both naturally low in alcohol as well as those that have had their ABV reduced. These lighter styles can also be a refreshing choice in the sunshine and while al-fresco dining.
Depending on style and grape variety, wines tend to have between 12-14% alcohol, however in recent years levels have been creeping up, partly because of climate change and also due to the growing trend for softer, more ripe wines.
‘The real challenge of making low- and no-alcohol wine is about how to remove the alcohol from a fermented juice (which can typically be 13%-14% alcohol by volume) without impairing mouthfeel, balance, typicity and quality,’ wrote Peter Richards MW.
Some of the wines below have been deliberately made as lower-alcohol options – such as Forrest, The Doctors’ Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2019, at 9% abv and the Brancott Estate, Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2019.
Others are able to maintain a lower abv because of the region, or style of wine.
Finding red wines below 12% can be tricky but not impossible with classic sources being cooler climate regions around the world – below we’ve included ones from Oregon and England.
For white wines Germany, and in particular the Mosel, is a good starting point. Wines with less than 10% abv are likely going to have an element of sweetness having had the fermentation stopped leaving the natural sweetness of the grapes in the resulting wine. Thanks to the cooler climate, English wines also provide some options – including some bottles below that are produced in urban wineries.
Rose wines can also be good for finding lower alcohol options, as well as ideal for summer drinking. The Marks & Spencer, Found Rosé, Vinho Verde, Portugal 2020 has ‘a slight spritz, light alcohol and just-dry flavours of pear juice, pink grapefruit and strawberry-and-cream sweets.’
Sparkling wines feature heavily on the list below – from Italy, England and the Rhône – as it’s easier to keep alcohol levels lower on these styles, without losing out on flavour.
Updated May 2021.
22 top lower alcohol wines to try
The following wines have been recommended by Decanter experts, and fall into the below 12% abv category.