Pieter Rosenthal's Wine of the Month - 'Viña Tendida Moscato'Posted on: 12 January 2012 by Alexander Hay
Happy New Year! Have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet? It will come as no surprise that I don't believe in an alcohol free January, but I do clearly reduce my intake to more appropriate levels after the hedonism of December. It may sound like a cliché, but everything in moderation still remains good advice.
Here at Love That Wine, we keep tasting and probing new stuff (all in the name of research, of course), and so we realise that for many people, January is a time for detoxes, meaning it's time to dust off the juicer for some health-giving vitamins.
But that's no reason to give up on wine altogether. Increasingly, retailers are making space on their shelves for lighter, lower alcohol versions of everyone's favourite fermented grape juice.
And where once these may have been virtually undrinkable, new technology has made it easier to produce low-alcohol wines that actually taste of – well - wine.
If you like your Shiraz big and bold, with 15% alcohol, you'll probably not be convinced, but lighter styles are increasingly popular, and if you also bear in mind that alcohol equals calories you start to understand why.
One caveat is that to give wine sufficient body, winemakers may add some sugar which does of course defeat the low-cal argument just a bit.
Low-alcohol wine itself may sound like a new addition on the market but they have always been around. Indeed, there are many ways to reduce the alcohol levels in a wine, its alcohol level of a wine is determined by the amount of natural sugar present in the grapes plus any sugar that is added prior to fermentation.
In short, sugar levels are dependent on ripeness of the grapes. The fermentation process converts the sugar into alcohol using yeast. Convert all of that sugar into alcohol and you end up with a dry wine and a fair amount of alcohol.
But stop the fermentation early, and you'll have some sweetness in the wine and a lower alcohol percentage - like Mosel Riesling, for example.
A typical mid-range wine, like 'Kabinett', will meanwhile have around 8 or 9% alcohol and a little sugar to balance out the classic high levels of acidity.
Italy is another country where low-alcohol wines have been made for a very long time. Moscato d'Asti tends to have only about 5% alcohol but can be quite a bit sweeter. The Moscato (or Muscat) grape lends itself well to less sweet lighter styles of wine as well. Examples are made across the world as both still and sparkling wines.
With that in mind, the wine I've chosen for January is a Moscato from Valencia in Spain. Made in a similar style to the Moscato d'Asti, this has 5% alcohol and although it has a bit of sugar it is not overtly sweet. The fact that it has a bit of spritz also adds to the freshness of the wine.
And if you enjoy Prosecco, you should really try this. There are plenty of reasons to do so, not least because it is a wonderful and refreshing wine that feels like a breath of fresh air after a month of excess. I drink to that and to a happy 2012 too!
Viña Tendida Moscato 2010 Valencia
Majestic £4.99 (£3.99 if you buy two)
Fresh, fruity and lightly sparkling. Hugely over delivers for the price.
By Pieter Rosenthal C/O Love That Wine
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