26 September 2023

Bang Without The Bite

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By Christine Salins.


Brown Brothers Refreshingly Light range

Last week we looked at how sales of non-alcoholic wines are growing exponentially. It’s worth noting that low-alcohol wines are also increasing in popularity as people become more conscious of moderating their alcohol consumption.

Drinking lighter suits not just our health but also our Aussie climate, the food we eat and our alfresco lifestyle.

By making a few changes, winemakers can reduce the alcohol content in their wines and in turn the kilojoules we consume. With clever winemaking, that can be done without sacrificing too much flavour or aromatics.

One popular Rosé we reviewed recently, State of Light, has an alcohol content of just 7% and the difference between it and Rosé with a much higher alcohol content was imperceptible.

Others may not be quite so successful. Just how much flavour is sacrificed in the process is up to you to judge. But as with all wine tasting, you can have a lot of fun trying a whole lot of different labels until you find some you like.

Yellowtail Pure Bright range

The process for making a wine with lower alcohol starts in the vineyard, as the earlier the grapes are picked the lower the sugar that converts to alcohol. As it’s the ripening of fruit that provides the flavour, choosing the right time to pick is a delicate balancing act in any winemaking.

To produce a lower alcohol wine, the winemaker may allow the grapes to ripen enough to achieve the desired flavour then reduce the alcohol by reverse osmosis, a technique similar to that used in water purification.

Brown Brothers describes the technique on its website for its Refreshingly Light range. It has vibrant, zesty, fruit-driven wine styles like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Rosé and Prosecco, all with around 9% ABV (alcohol by volume), available nationally in Dan Murphy’s and BWS at around $20 RRP.

Brown Brothers recommends they be served chilled in an ice bucket or mixed in a cocktail, and enjoyed with oysters, barbecued food, charcuterie boards, antipasto platters, salads and soft cheeses.

Another major Aussie producer, [yellow tail], which this year celebrates its 20th birthday, has launched Pure Bright, a range of varietals that are 20-25% lower in alcohol than the equivalent varietals in its core range.

So far, there’s a Pure Bright Sparkling with an ABV of 8.5% and a Pure Bright Pinot Noir with an ABV of 10.8%. These are available in Coles Liquor (Liquorland and First Choice) stores nationally, priced at around $10 RRP.

Good Pair Days low alcohol wine pack

Winemaker David Joeky says a combination of techniques is used to ensure the wines remain vibrant and full-flavoured, from night harvesting and cooler fermentation to specialised yeasts and reserve osmosis.

[yellow tail] Pure Bright Sparkling, $10: Lightly fruity but dry and refreshing, with notes of tropical and citrus fruits. 8.5% ABV.

[yellow tail] Pure Bright Pinot Noir, $10: Bright and juicy with notes of cherries, red berries, and a hint of sweet spice. 10.8% ABV.

Domaine de Chatillon 2017 Mondeuse, $23: If it’s character and intrigue you’re after, this red is a joy to drink. It has dark fruit flavours and is quite peppery and savoury yet light-bodied and floral at the same time. 11% ABV. Originally found in the Savoie region of France, Mondeuse is rarely seen in Australia. This was among three fine wines in a low alcohol wine pack from online wine retailer, Good Pair Days.

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