Good taste: Taking some silly out of the season

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Bella Sauvignon Blanc. Photo / Supplied.
Bella Sauvignon Blanc. Photo / Supplied.

"Get fabulous and flexible in time for Christmas," the local yoga advert promised. Oh, no, it can't be time to dust the mothballs off that little black dress again? The festive period is on the horizon, however, which means you'll soon be reading those holier-than-thou articles on how to consume fewer calories during the party season. That's no fun: eat the mince pies and drink the wine your boss is paying for.

But if you do want to be fabulous for Christmas and have a liver as good as new by December, one of the easiest ways of moderating your consumption is by buying wines that are lower in alcohol.

Lower-alcohol wines are the next big thing, if the wine industry's tweed-jacket brigade are to be believed. Our love affair with 15 per cent Australian shiraz is over. We want wines that aren't going to leave us with a sore head after just one glass or notching up too many Weight Watchers points. Not only do lower-alcohol wines reduce your unit intake, so you don't need to lie about your consumption next time you're at the doctor's, they're also lower in calories.

What's not to love?

Invivo is the first New Zealand wine company to launch a lower-alcohol range, called Bella. The sauvignon has 30 per cent fewer calories and 30 per cent less alcohol than regular wine, so it's perfect for lunchtime drinking and satisfying that urge for a tipple at the end of a hard day's work. If you're no good at resisting temptation when the bottle is open and whispering "drink me", this may be just what you're looking for.

Some wine styles are naturally lower in alcohol, like riesling and moscato d'asti, while others have some of their alcohol removed by fancy technologies such as reverse osmosis and spinning cones. It's already a big trend in Britain and it looks as though it's about to take off here.

Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough ($19.95, La Vino)

One of the best lower-alcohol wines I've tasted (although I would probably prefer to drink 30 per cent less wine to cut my calories and units). Dry, with lots of citrus and gooseberry aromas. Very quaffable.

Dr Loosen L Riesling 2009, Mosel, Germany ($21.99, Caro's)

Winemaker Ernie Loosen looks a bit like a mad professor, but who cares when his wines are so delicious? They're fresh and spritzy, with apple, pear and citrus flavours. At just 8.5 per cent alcohol, expect some sweetness, making this perfect for pad Thai from the food court. Excellent value for money.

Gianni Gagliardo, Villa M Moscato 2008, Italy ($33, Glengarry)

It may sound strange, but moscato does actually taste of fresh grapes plus a dash of orange zest and a few flowers. This gently sparkling Italian is more frothy than fizzy, is deliciously refreshing and contains only 5.5 per cent alcohol.

- Rebecca Gibb is Detours' new wine writer. She was recently named the Emerging Wine Writer of the Year at the international Louis Roederer wine awards.

- Herald on Sunday

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