Drinks to help you cut your alcohol units

The Guardian - Fri Jan 14 14:00

If you’re merely having a damp January, rather than a dry one – that is, you are cutting down instead of cutting out – you may well be more attracted by low-alcohol than by no-alcohol drinks, which I wrote about last week.

So far as wine is concerned, at least, there’s a lot to be said for it, too. There are some more than drinkable wines out there at 12% ABV or under – mainly whites and sparkling wines, it has to be said, although a number of producers are now making reds at 9%, among them the charmingly named Sunny With a Chance of Flowers pinot noir I’ve recommended below. Unlike most low-alcohol reds, it’s not too sweet, either, the usual downside to lower alcohol being higher sugar, though that matters less with riesling, where that’s generally offset by a crisp acidity. A small glass of 8% Mosel riesling, such as Dr Loosen’s delicious Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2019 (£16.99 Rannoch Scott, or £35 by the magnum from Waitrose Cellar), for example, is just one unit. (Incidentally, you can work out the number of units in your drink by multiplying the ABV by the volume of the drink in millilitres, then dividing that by 1,000, so, 8 x 125 ÷ 1,000 = 1.)

So-called “small” or “table” beers, meanwhile, have been around for a while, spearheaded by the likes of the Kernel Brewery and the Small Beer Brew Co, but an increasing number of others are now also offering beers that come in at less than 4%. And they manage to pack a lot of flavour into the bottle or can, too, and are a particularly easy way to cut back on your consumption. More surprising, to me at least, it turns out there is also an equivalent in the cider world – small cider, or “ciderkin”, according to RK French’s The History and Virtues of Cyder. As well as the extraordinary Templar’s Choice in my choices below, I love Pilton’s Pomme Pomme (£6.95 a half-bottle from their websitepiltoncider.com), which at 4.8% is slightly higher, and deliciously infused with quince.

You can, of course, also get low-alcohol spirits, though part of me wonders why you would, given that they can be more expensive than the full-strength version. Granted, they make life easier, plus it’s less tempting to have a lower-strength spirit to play with. Maybe they’re more for budding mixologists than for those of us who like our drinks neat, but I can’t help but feel that having a single instead of a double of your usual bevvy might not be a better solution.

Five low-alcohol drinks to keep your units down

Templar’s Choice cider

Templar’s Choice Late Harvest Cider £7 for 750ml templarscider.co.uk, £8.50 cideriswine.co.uk, 3%. Made by a British couple in Normandy, this deeply flavoured, off-dry cider is an extraordinary drink, almost like liquid tarte tatin.

Newtown Park square

Newtown Park All Day Long Table Beer £3.50 for 440ml Two Belly, £3.65 Hop, Burns & Black, 3%. Yet another quirky Bristol brewery doing its thing. They also have a 3.9% pale ale called Yelling at Inanimate Objects. As you do.

Sunny with a chance

Sunny With a Chance of Flowers 2019 £10.75 (on offer) Booths, £12.50 Aitken’s of Dundee, 9%. Who can resist a wine with name like this? Light, but with a proper pinot character.

The Doctor’s Riesling

The Doctor’s Riesling 2019 £13.95 Frontier Fine Wines, £10.99 New Zealand House of Wine, 9%. Crisp, limey, off-dry riesling from Forrest, the Kiwi pioneers of the 9% wine. Perfect for Thai food.

Cut classic

Cut Classic Premium Light Spirit Drink made with Aged Caribbean Rum £30, 20%. Decent, low-alcohol dark spirits are few and far between, so this is welcome, if a bit pricey.