Wine O’Clock – Sweet and low

Wine reviews – By Michael Wolsey

Many producers have attempted to provide low-alcohol or no-alcohol wine but without much success. Although some are also low in calories, these drinks are usually too sweet. I am not sure if this is an inevitable product of the manufacturing process or if it is what the makers think drinkers of no-alcohol wine would like.

The latest attempt is from a South African producer. It’s called First Cape Light and I spotted it on the shelf at Dunnes Stores for a bargain €5 a bottle.

The label on the front appears to claim it as a Sauvignon Blanc. But when I turn to the label on the back, I find it is not a wine at all but something called a “mixed drink”.

It tastes a little like a spritzer, with, say, lemonade and a dash of lime added to a drop of white wine. And if that’s what you want, then fair enough. It’s low in alcohol (just over 5%) and claims to be low in calories – but once again it is very sweet.

You could make a similar drink yourself, with sparkling water instead of lemonade, and get a better result or, at least, one without the sweet after-taste.

If you want a real wine with relatively low alcohol, try a Portuguese Vinho Verde or a French Muscadet, crisp white wines that come in around 11% . But bear in mind that this is still twice the First Cape level.

Pinot Noir is probably the lowest of the reds with around 12.5% alcohol content.

If you really want to cut down on alcohol, you should drink less. Smaller glasses might be a help – the ones you get in most restaurants are far too big.