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COLUMN: Wines without flavour

Both low calorie and low alcohol wines are a silly idea, each tasting as bad as the other, writes MiNDFOOD's wine editor Joelle Thomson.

COLUMN: Wines without flavour

Despite repeated requests for wine with no alcohol in it, I am unable to be of assistance because wine without alcohol is a myth.

When grapes are fermented they turn into an alcoholic drink, which we call wine.

The most effective way of curbing alcohol consumption is to abstain – or learn to drink in moderation, which isn’t always easy but for most of us it is possible…

There’s always sparkling water or juice if you need to sip something but know you’ve reached your limit.

Low calorie wine is also a bad idea.

There are some low alcohol – hence low calorie – wines that taste good, but not many. One is the Italian Moscato d’Asti and rieslings from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine-growing region are another.

These wines are low in alcohol because of the climates in which they grow, unlike the new low alcohol and low calorie wines I’ve recently been sent.

The first supposedly low calorie wine I received is a very good sparkling wine, but I’m interested in its flavour, balance and quality rather than how many calories it contains.

The other two taste of very little at all.

Light and fresh but boringly simple, both tasted slightly astringent, implying that the grapes were harvested before they were fully ripe.

It simply means there were fewer sugars to ferment, hence the alcohol (and therefore calorie) content is lower. The taste is also of a lower quality.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for reducing alcohol levels. Like most health-conscious wine drinkers, I have little time for the trend towards higher alcohol wines but I have even less time for wines that sacrifice flavour simply to make us feel better about consuming alcohol in the first place.

It’s ironic that ‘New World’ wine producers in Australia and New Zealand are to blame for both high alcohol wines and these new low alcohol wines. As for the low calorie content of faddish new wines, that’s a trend I hope will disappear before it spurs an entire new category of ‘wines without flavour’.

About seven years ago I shed 12 kilograms of weight gained after having a baby and through years of laziness and overeating. It wasn’t easy but I never stopped drinking wine. I ate less, joined a gym and initially got the jitters when I realised there was none of my favourite cheese in the fridge.

It’s still a battle but it’s worth it.

If behavioural change doesn’t appeal, go ahead and buy low calorie wine. Just remember that when you lose the calories in wine you usually lose the flavour, quality and alcohol. And with it, all the pleasure.

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