IIf you’re simply having a wet January, rather than a dry one – that is, you’re cutting back instead of cutting back – you may well be more attracted to low-alcohol beverages than non-alcoholic beverages, that I talked about last week.
When it comes to wine, at least, there’s plenty to talk about too. There are more than drinkable wines at 12% ABV or less – mostly white wines and sparkling wines, it must be said, although a number of producers are now making reds at 9%, including the lovely Sunny With a Chance de Fleurs pinot noir which I have recommended below. Unlike most low-alcohol reds, it’s not overly sweet either, the usual downside of lower alcohol being higher sugar, although this matters less with Riesling, where this is usually offset by lively acidity. A small glass of 8% Moselle Riesling, like the delicious Dr Loosen’s Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2019 (€16.99Rannoch Scott, Where £35 per magnum from Waitrose Cellar), for example, is just one unit. (Incidentally, you can determine the number of units in your drink by multiplying the ABV by the volume of the drink in milliliters, then dividing that by 1,000, or 8 x 125 ÷ 1,000 = 1.)
So-called “small” or “table” beers, on the other hand, have been around for a while, spearheaded by the likes of Kernel Brewery and the small beer Brew Co, but a growing number of others now also offer beers at less than 4%. And they also manage to pack a lot of flavor into the bottle or can, and are a particularly easy way to cut your intake. More surprising, at least for me, it turns out that there is also an equivalent in the world of cider – the small cider, or “cidrekin”, according to The History and Virtues of Cyder by RK French. In addition to the extraordinary Templar’s Choice in my picks below, I love Apple Pilton Apple (£6.95 a half bottle on their websitepiltoncider.com), which at 4.8% is slightly higher, and deliciously infused with quince.
You can, of course, also get low-strength spirits, although part of me wonders why you would, given that they can be more expensive than the full-strength version. Certainly, they make life easier and it is less tempting to play with a less strong mind. Maybe they’re more for budding mixologists than those of us who like our drinks neat, but I can’t help but think that having a single instead of a double of your bevvy usual might not be a better solution.
Five low-alcohol drinks to lower your units
Late Harvest Cider Templar’s Choice £7 for 750ml templarscider.co.uk, £8.50, 3%. Made by a British couple in Normandy, this strong tasting semi-dry cider is an extraordinary drink, almost like a liquid tarte tatin.
Newtown Park All Day Table Beer £3.50 for 440ml of two bellies, £3.65 Hops, Burns & Black, 3%. Yet another quirky Bristol brewery doing its thing. They also have a 3.9% lager called Yelling at Inanimate Objects. As you do.
Cut Classic Premium Light Spirit Drink made from aged Caribbean rum £30, 20%. Decent, low-alcohol dark spirits are in short supply, so this is welcome, if a bit pricey.