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Low Alcohol Wines: A New Trend

Erin O'Reilly - Certified Specialist of Wine

How do you enjoy your wine? As a cocktail before dinner? Or an accompanist to the meal? Perhaps both? If you love wine as a part of your lifestyle, you’ve probably spent time thinking about the long-term health effects of alcohol consumption. And you’re not alone. Low alcohol wines are one of the fastest growing trends in the wine industry.

wine cellar with multiple multicolored bottles

Why are wines lower in alcohol trending?

Younger drinkers tend to be more conscientious about healthy lifestyle choices, and so they seek out lower alcohol wines. But they’re not the only ones considering their health choices. Baby boomers, a large consumer segment, are also heading advice on healthful drinking choices. Add both sectors together and it’s no surprise that lower alcohol wines are trending hot right now. But what is low alcohol wine?

What’s considered a low alcohol wine?

Alcohol levels in a typical table wine range from 12%-14% ABV. Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine, reports that while there’s no formal consensus on what constitutes a low alcohol wine, most producers are targeting 7%-10% ABV. Alcohol adds body and mouthfeel to wine, and wines with an ABV below 7% loose their character.

How to Make Low Alcohol Wine

Some wine styles produce wine with a low alcohol content naturally. A famous example is German Riesling, a low alcohol white wine. Mainstream wines chasing the low alcohol trend, however, have a helping hand from science to achieve their narrow alcohol range.

equipment at a winemaking facility

Reverse Osmosis Technology

Producers with sufficient financial resources invest in reverse osmosis technology. These machines can pull out the ethanol and water, the smallest molecules in a wine, by passing them through a filter. The producer then calculates how much ethanol and water to add back to achieve the desired alcohol levels, taking into account the flavor, aroma, and texture profiles.

Making lower alcohol wine adds complexity to an already involved process. The winemaker will adjust tannin levels, extraction techniques, and aging regimens so that the final wine remains balanced.

Low-Alcohol means High-intervention

If it seems like this is a high-intervention way to make wine, you’re not wrong. The capital investment costs for the technology means that reverse osmosis wine tends to come from large producers. Their marketing research teams understand the growing demand for lower alcohol wines and these companies are targeting a growing consumer segment.

Ready to try a low alcohol wine?

Are you wondering…is low alcohol wine better for you? Seek out low alcohol wines at your local beverage store. Look for labels under major producers that include calories, carbohydrates, and sugar content. Other cues may include phrases like “lower in calories” or “lower in alcohol”. You may just find that lower alcohol wines fit your personal lifestyle goals.

Check out our own collection of low alcohol wines down below and see what you think! And don't forget to come back each month to check out the newly featured wines that are added to the stock! Enjoy!

Erin O'Reilly Author Bio Image Author Bio: Erin O’Reilly, Certified Specialist of Wine, is a wine writer and educator. She pens her work from Monterey wine country where she raises a glass to the growers and producers dedicated to crafting great wines.