Alcohol Drops When the Temperature Rises

As the temperature spikes up, my internal alcohol barometer dips down. Sure – gutsy red wine is great with grilled burgers, but make mine fresh, fruity and with a thrash of acid to help refresh palate and person. It’s commonsensical – do you reach for a cool, light popsicle or the heavy chocolate torte when it’s pushing 30C? Eating the former will cool you down, while the latter will make you sweat. Same with wines.

Lighter bodied wines can mean more subtle flavours, but that’s certainly not always the case. German riesling, for example, are known for their memorable drive and pulsing energy, not for their shyness. Usually hovering in the 8-10% alcohol range, the cooler climate region translates to lower sugar in the grapes, therefore less food for the yeast to munch on, resulting in less alcohol. It’s not just German wine math; generally speaking, cool climate (often old world, and classic regions) wines don’t build the sugar ripeness that warm climate (often new world, and modern regions) do. And classic wines and regions were not created or manipulated to appeal to a modern, often American (or famous American critic’s) palate.

It’s certainly not only the classics, or classic regions that achieve lower alcohol though. Earlier picking, less winemaker intervention (no chaptalization, or added sugar for yeast feasts) and even taxation regulations can all contribute to a lower alcohol product. But what’s most interesting, is that after years of bigger is better mentality, I’m seeing the shift in consumers towards more balanced, subtler and leaner wines. Whether for health reasons (fewer calories, less intoxication and munchies) or an increase in wine education (searching for wider wine options and range in styles), these lower alcohol, tasty wines are hot right now – and not just because the temperature is.



Sperling Vineyards
Sper…itz 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$13 for 375ml  + 254573

Ann Sperling is one of Canada’s most heralded winemakers, and has brought 25 years of winemaking home to the vineyard she grew up on in the Okanagan, continuing a cherished tradition begun by her great grandparents on that land over 150 years ago. This light and lively, slightly sper…itzy wine is a blend of the obscure perle of csaba and slightly more familiar bacchus grapes. Light, frothy mousse, perfumed roses, honeycrisp apple, pink grapefruit and white peach. Chill it down and lap it up – this is low alcohol (7%), moderate acid deliciousness. Pair with fruit salad and brunch. 87 points.


Cellar Dwellerst-urbans-hof

Weingut St. Urbans-Hof
Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2011
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
$30  +310524

This off-dry riesling is proof positive that low alcohol wines (8%) can be as exciting and intense as ones clocking in degrees higher. This ripe Mosel Riesling, while lighter in body and doe-nimble, delights with ample heady orchard fruit, crisp and shiny lemon pith acidity, peach blossom florals and a lingering, lightly petroled, stone-spiced finish. This will continue to deepen and delight over the next 5 years.

Weingut St. Urbans-Hof was first established in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis who was awarded the prestigious title “Oekonomierat” (Chancellor of Agriculture) in 1969 for his dedication to German viticulture traditions. His son, Hermann and daughter-in-law Ida carried forward the tradition and further developed the winery through the acquisition of prime vineyard sites in the Mosel and Saar Valleys. Today, Nikolaus (Nik) Peter Weis is the 3rd generation owner, overseeing approximately 35 hectares in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, making it the 2nd largest family-owned wine estate in the region. 89 points.



Cape Classics
Jam Jar, Moscato
Western Cape, South Africa
$14.99 +75630

You might recognize Jam Jar from their Sweet Shiraz wine; this is their sweet white to partner. If you’re looking for a floral, fun, frivolous sipper for brunches or punches, dip into this jar of juicy moscato. Mid-sweet, this sunny wine has a slight struck stoniness at first, countering the rich apricot, pear and nectarine flavours. The mouthfeel is round and ripe and though the finish is a bit clipped, it’s bright. 10%. 85 points.


Moschofilero 2012
Peloponnese, Greece
$16.99  +177154

Is your summer school goal to be more adventurous? Expand your vocabulary?  Actually save money for school? Well – do I have the wine for you, via transporting  your thoughts and palate to sunny Greece.  Even the sunny hue harkens the Mediterranean sunshine.  Boutari is the wine king of Greece, with the winery dating back to 1879 and wine domination pretty much continually since. 100% moschofilero, this bright, crisp and aromatic wine is lively and lean on the 11% palate, but full of floral blossoms, exotic fruit, zesty citrus and herbal aniseseed. 88 points.


No WineosBrio-Beer

Borg Brugghus
Brio Pilsner
$2.39 for 500ml  +34033

Who knew about this, Icelandic beer? New to me – especially to be seen on this market. It’s obviously not new to others – Brio evidently won a Gold for World’s Best Pilsner at the World Beer Awards 2012. I’m certainly no Icelandic beer expert, but this clean, straightforward beer would make a fine pairing with a beach after a long dip in an ice bucket (perfect for Iceland!) Light cracker and grass are dominating notes, along with a grainy citrus-tinged finish. 4.8%


Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for? DRINK This!


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.



Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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