By Rose Murray Brown MW     Published in The Scotsman 21 January 2017

More and more drinkers are looking for wines with moderate alcohol levels.  They do not want to go to the ‘low alcohol’ section, but they want to cut down a bit on alcohol and calories. 

The key is to look mainly in European wine regions, where alcohol levels are slightly lower due to cooler temperatures and less grape ripeness, but we found a few exceptions from down-under.  Check out our favourite white wines at 12% alcohol and under.

Alcohol level: 11.5%
(£9.06 reduced from £12.99 Virgin Wines
Unusual to find Sauvignon Blanc in Australia at this alcohol level.  This crisp dry gooseberry toned aperitif hails from the Adelaide Hills, one of South Australia’s cooler regions.  Good value at its knock down price.

Alcohol level: 11%
(£7 Asda)
Grapey peachy lightly spiced just off-dry white offers a great introduction to the unprounceable grape Cserszegi Fuszeres grape from Hilltop winery in Neszmely region.  Sweet Eastern spice notes with a honeyed aftertaste – ideal for light quaffing aperitif with its moderate alcohol; suit those who normally drink Pinot Grigio:

Alcohol level: 12%
(£9.99 Virgin Wines
Garganega is not a well-known grape, but if you have ever drunk a Soave you will have encountered it.  This white Italian was very popular with our tasters for its gentle fragrance, fleshy richness on the palate and underlying hint of spice which makes it a good accompaniment with Thai dishes.

France:  ROUSSETTE DE BUGEY-MONTAGNIEU 2014 Domaine Peillot 
Alcohol level: 12%
(£12.95 The Wine Society
Hugely popular with tasters who loved this unusual quirky crisp white made from Savoie’s local Altesse in the Alps north east of Lyons.  Floral yeasty honeyed notes, a vivid mountain freshness mingled with lemony fruits and a waxy texture, good length and moderate alcohol. 

Alcohol level: 0.5%
(£5.99 Waitrose)
With just 20 calories – less than an apple – this is the lowest alcohol level wine I have tasted which still tastes like a wine.  Made from 100% Muscat grapes, it is made in the same way as a normal table wine with stainless steel fermentation, but a rotating wine column is then used to remove the alcohol, but retain aroma and mineral salts.  The best method for removing alcohol, it does still taste surprisingly like a normal wine but lacks any length of flavour.

Australia:  PETER LEHMANN LAYERS WHITE 2014          
Alcohol level: 11%
(£9.89-£10.99 Henderson Wines; Fine Wine Company, Edinburgh; Rude Wines; The Drink Shop)
An unusual light aromatic Australian white which combines moderate alcohol with exotic aromas and creamy honeyed palate.  A blend of Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Moscato and Pinot Gris from the hot Barossa Valley may sound like a heavy duty combination, but this is enchantingly light and fresh for an Australian wine with layered aromatic appeal. 

France:  VOUVRAY DEMI-SEC 2015 Chateau Moncontour
Alcohol level: 11%
(£10 Marks & Spencer)
If you hate bone dry whites, this vivid refreshing off-dry Loire Chenin Blanc has a touch of sweetness and very fine acidic balance on the finish.  Our tasters loved its blossomy fragrance and grapey flavours.  Serve as an unusual aperitif, with a light apple tart or cheese.

Alcohol level: 5.5%       
(£8 Fine Wine Company, Musselburgh;
If you have a fondness for northern Italian fizz, you will enjoy this Aussie look-alike.  Citric, fresh grapey with a hint of ginger, tropical fruit flavours and sweetness on the finish.  Its mild frizzante from retained carbon dioxide makes it particularly refreshing – made from plump juicy Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown in Victoria.

Alcohol level: 11.5%
(£14.99 Virgin Wines
An unusual white Sangiovese – made from early picked grapes, which retains the floral and delicate perfumes of the grape.  The red grapes are treated as if making a white wine, with fermentation off the skins, leaving a very herby, minerally, flavourful, off dry white aperitif.  Made from Paolo Rivella at Tenuta Fertuna in Maremma in southern Tuscany with Grazini Grassini of the famous Tenuta San Guido estate.

France: MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE ‘ORGANIC’ 2014 Chateau de la Placeliere
Alcohol level: 12%
(£10.50 Oddbins)
If you have turned your back on Muscadet, now is the time to revisit.  Not only is their alcohol level moderate, but they offer great value.  Added to this is the promising vintage of 2014.  This is made by Vincent Lieubeau who has worked in USA, South America and Europe before heading back to run his family estate with brother Francois.  Light fragrant pearskin aromas, green apple and citric flavours.

Alcohol level 9.5%
(£9.50 The Wine Society
Just off dry and very grapey in flavour.  A delicious light aperitif style German Riesling made by the venerable Reh family of von Kesselstatt estate who own 36 hectares of top quality vineyards in the Saar valley, a tributary of the Mosel.  This delightful Riesling comes from their Niedermenniger vineyard.

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