With the Royal Society for Public Health calling for calorie labels on alcoholic drinks and Peta Bee ’s revelation earlier this week that a Long Island Ice Tea equates to a serving of apple crumble and custard , the fattening effects of booze have been weighing on our minds somewhat, especially given that party season is fast approaching. In my experience abstinence makes the heart grow fonder; if you enjoy a tipple going without when others are indulging can be a challenge. If you’re trying to cut back on alcohol, calories or embarrassing office party incidents, these five bottles are worth considering and don’t sacrifice taste for more virtuous than most health credentials. Choosing wine over say, cocktails, beer or spirits does have its benefits, as its antioxidants and flavonoids are thought to have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, but don’t take that as carte blanche to pour yourself a goblet of Bordeaux. As with all things in life, moderation is key, and it’s worth remembering that alcohol stimulates your appetite; before you know it you’ve fallen prey to a lethal Shiraz-kebab duo. Heed nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik’ s words of wine wisdom before sticking to your daily limit of 2-3 units (for women):
“The clearer the liquid, the fewer congeners it contains, so clearer (i.e, white) wines should have less hangover effects. Champagne absorbs into the bloodstream quicker as it’s carbonated, so do be mindful of that! The worst thing that you can do is ‘save up’ units to go from consuming nothing to bingeing on a night out”
Longview ‘The Whippet’ Sauvignon Blanc 2013
With a name like ‘The Whippet’, this wine is about as far from a vapid low calorie offering as you could get. A Decanter Silver award winner, it’s a dry Aussie white with a lot in the way of bite. With grapes harvested early to save vines from floods, this vintage contains less than 5g residual sugar, as grapes aren’t ripened to their fullest. We all know that less sugar normally results in fewer calories, and this zippy Sauvignon doesn’t fare badly as far as alcohol content is concerned too, with 10.5% ABV ( it’s worth noting that alcohol has almost twice as many calories per gram as sugar). It’s crisp, fresh and has an ‘open and charming nose’ according to the experts at Decanter. We’re suckers for charm, so this seductive Sauvignon Blanc is most definitely on our guest list.
£13.25, buy online
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009
Clinking a glass of fizz every now and again won’t jeopardise your saintly intentions; it contains just 91 calories a glass on average. Bubbles are lighter than many wines on the ABV scale too; this elegant, creamy multi-award winner is just 12%. Produced in the UK and a dead ringer for champagne, there’s no reason to sacrifice price, palate, pennies or food miles to enjoy a decent celebratory drink. This one will age well too if you’re saving it for a special occasion; the brioche flavours will only get toastier.
£35.99, buy online
With a seal of approval from our very own purveyor of all things luxe Christa d’Souza, we urge you not to judge this bubbly by its diet drink connotations. Officially titled Alexandre Penet Brut Nature Cuvée Grand Cru, according to Christa ‘it’s delicious’ and ‘perfectly robust enough to serve at the most manliest of dinners’. It’s skinny credentials come courtesy of it’s desert dry character- the term brut refers to a style of sparkling that isn’t ‘dosed’ with added sugars. If you opt for a glass of champers at the bar, you would be in very good company indeed. Cast away all Absolutely Fabulous associations and follow nutritional therapist Gabriela Peacock’s example:
“I opt for a small glass of champagne. That way I know it’s just 1 unit and comes in a smaller glass. It just isn’t the most wallet friendly option but why not spend a little more to help you consume a little less?! I also make sure I don’t drink on an empty stomach. As alcohol is a stimulant it is much safer to drink after eating some protein combined with carbohydrate to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.”
£249 for a case of 6, buy online
Giardini Lower Alcohol Merlot
If you’re a die hard red wine fan, good old M&S will sweep you off your feet with this plummy Merlot. It’s not just New Zealand winemakers producing quality, lower calorie and reduced alcohol wines (the NZ government have invested £4m in the “lifestyle” wine market); this silky red may clock in at just 9.5% ABV but customers love it- it’s praised for its ‘soft, drinkable’ quality and the fact that it’s not a million miles away from the ripe deliciousness of their usual favoured Merlot. It’s less blackberry squash, more full-bodied belter.
£6.99 , buy online
Marks and Sparks to the rescue again. If sherry seems a bit 1970s/ Christmas with your nan bear with us. Technically a fortified wine, this dry, moreish Manzanilla is lower in sugar and calories than other sherry varieties and many aperitifs in general. It may be 15% ABV, but do remember that sherry is served in smaller ‘copitas’ (worth remembering if you’re pouring from home). If you’re in the mood for something a bit off-piste, this tangy Spanish option should fit the bill. Pass the olives.
£6.99, buy online