The hot weather invites more day drinking. Brunches, pool parties, barbecues and other outdoor activities often lead to consuming alcoholic beverages well before dusk.
It’s important to monitor and possibly limit your consumption. The trends today lean toward drinks with less alcohol. New World reds pushed alcohol to 16% and beyond, so a pullback is welcome. Lower-alcohol wines can pair better with foods and are more appropriate for hot weather. I consider a low-alcohol wine to have 12% alcohol or less.
Wine importer Bartholomew Broadbent, who specializes in Portuguese wines, compared the difference in alcohol consumed after three glasses of vinho verde — a light white wine — versus a high-alcohol red. He described the difference as the equivalent of two gin-and-tonics.
White and sparkling wines generally have a bit less alcohol than reds. Some whites have about one-third less alcohol than a big red.
One of my favorites is the crackly, slightly sparking and often ridiculously inexpensive vinho verde. While you can find white and blush versions, white is the most common. The refreshing Gazella 2018 Vinho Verde offers a straightforward, clean and citrusy style with just 9% alcohol. The wine is ideal to pair with fish and makes for a nice selection for people who tend to not like wine. $6. ★★★★
German riesling tends to be lower in alcohol, but less booziness correlates to more sweetness. At 11%, the wine will be semi-dry, but below 10%, it should be perceptibly sweet. But more often than not, the sweetness is balanced with crisp acids.
Big brand Blufeld comes in sweet and medium sweet. Blufeld 2018 Mosel Medium Sweet Riesling shows character of peach, apple and floral; a juicy rich mouthfeel; and a refreshing acidity. People who drink dry wines may recoil at the residual sweetness. Nevertheless, this is worth a try with spicy Asian food. $9. ★★★ 1/2
One of the biggest phenomena in beverage alcohols is hard seltzer, a reaction to bar-goers ordering the flavorless but lower-calorie vodka and soda. The leader is the brand Truly, weighing in at 5% alcohol. Truly tastes like seltzer water. It doesn’t taste like wine, a wine cooler or a malted beverage at all. Is the alcohol supposed to be like a ghost — in there somewhere?
If you want 5% alcohol and don’t mind having some flavor, you can go for the wine-like product Arbor Mist, which was a huge success upon its release in the 1990s. Arbor Mist was the reaction to consumer research on college-aged women who guzzled hard cider in the late ’80s and early ’90s because they weren’t sure about wine but wanted a fruity, identifiable flavor; a lower alcohol content; and sophistication. Like white zinfandel, Arbor Mist has become the butt of jokes, but it is a good product and solid choice for low-alcohol enjoyment.
With lower-alcohol wine drinks available, you can be sociable, enjoy a pleasant drink and stay safe.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.
David Falchek executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org