This year was kind of a stressful one, yes? Maybe not for everyone. But it felt intense. The beauty of Jan. 1 is that it’s our chance to reflect on our choices from the last year, reset, and forge a new path for ourselves.
Regarding where wine falls into this, there are a few relevant and common resolutions:
1. Lose Weight and Exercise More.
2. Save Money
3. Consume with Personal Ethics in mind
First, if you’re counting calories, it’s good to know where calories come from. The simple answer is carbohydrates (sugar), and alcohol. So if you want a lower calorie wine, you should find one that is low in sugar and alcohol. Double bonus, if you kind some that are affordable (that are also the kinds of wines that you like.
Generally, many vague wine blends made by corporate entities have more residual sugar than most. This is because these large companies have surmised that wine drinkers don’t like dry wines. In the United States, producers are not required to tell you how much sugar is in a wine. And let me tell you, sugar is all up in those blends on the shelf.
Your best bet for low-calorie wine is to find dry, lower-alcohol wines (say...12% or less). Where are these wines made? What do they taste like? And are they tasty and affordable?
One of the first categories that comes to mind is dry white wine from Bordeaux, France.
The 2016 Chateau Laguerre Bordeaux blanc checks all the resolution boxes. It’s a $12 humble blend of sauvignon blanc and Semillon from the sub region of Entre-Deux-Mers. This is not a citrus bomb of sauvignon blanc that you might expect from New Zealand or California. This is a bit funky. It gives plenty of lemon and orange-like flavors, but it’s also very mineral/chalky. If you can’t find this bottling, there are many other dry whites from Bordeaux that can easily replace it.
Buying from Michigan wineries presents local presents a few opportunities as well. The 2016 Bowers Harbor red blend is so easily up the middle for various preferences. It’s not a bitter wine. It’s lighter but dry. It’s not clumsy. The fruit is fresh and juicy; red and black fruits are obvious but not overtly jammy and sloppy. It’s about $16 and is great local selection for this year.
If you drink fruity, dry rose, the 2018 Domaine Skouras “Zoe” rose is like a cherry/watermelon fruit salad. It’s refreshing and only about $15. The grapes are indigenous to Greece (agiorgitiko and moschofilero), and the soil on mainland Greece is clearly ideal for these wines.
If you like to snack on asparagus, oysters or some bangin’ french fries, this wine can work for that. I think this would also be excellent with sauteed asparagus.
Regarding the last point, consuming ethically is a complex, nuanced concept to tackle. Where does one draw the line? Do you purchase a wine made by a winery owned by a big tobacco company? Do you purchase wine made by a company who is known internally for treating employees horribly? Many of these wines exist.
I’ve decided to never pour Montevertine’s “Le Pergole Torte,” because the owner is very on the record with angrily articulated racially-charged statements directed at immigrants. Yes, Le Pergole Torte is delicious and a benchmark of Sangiovese. But there are hundreds of others out there made by less problematic people.
How many of us espouse the superiority of organic food purchasing, yet buy organic food made 4000 miles away? What’s that carbon footprint look like compared to purchasing tomatoes grown 10 miles away?
How many of us talk a good game about localvorism, but purchase fast fashion produced in Bangladesh?
We all owe ourselves some time for reflection, this writer included. That’s what resolutions are so good for. Even if some of the surrounding discussion is done in jest, it’s the one time of year that collectively we open up some engagement about the process of self-reflection. It’s healthy.
Hopefully we can all find ways to be a little healthie in 2020. Eating smarter. Listening better to friends and loved ones. Being more patient (with ourselves and others). I’m on the hook for many of these. I look forward to that journey.
Justin King is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is owner of Bridge Street Social, a wine and cocktails-focused restaurant in DeWitt, and Bar Mitena, a Spanish winebar opening on Lansing’s Eastside. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org