Because of Fran’s alcoholism I too gave it up for many years but since she has been unable to eat with me in the living room I went back to it bit by bit.
Firstly I worked my way gradually through all the gifts in the spare room, then I bought a bottle of cassis for a before dinner apero and thus needed too a bottle of white, then a nice but not too expensive red, Herault, to go with my meal when not having fish, I found that my kir making skills were not up to the standard of the many routiers I used to frequent so gave up on that and bought a bottle of gin, which meant I had to buy a bottle of tonic. Finished the gin and bought another, but too expensive so gave up on that habit. That enabled me to buy a bottle of Port to go with my cheeses, especially when the butcher had a Christmas only speciality of genuine Long Broughton Stilton on offer (he is now instructed to put at least 2 lumps aside for me if it ever appears again).
Yesterday, my lone bottle of red from the previous week had just lasted the week (as you can see I am a problem drinker but not in the normal sense) so determined to major on the red and ditch all the rest by buying 2 bottles of Herault and nothing else. There wasn’t any there so I picked up a nice looking couple of Merlots instead.
Yesterday evening I wondered why it was such a struggle to remove the plastic covering of the cork before realising that there wasn’t one, but there was a metal screw cap. As I poured it out but before taking a sip I began to read the label. Desalcoolise, what could that mean? The truth dawned, but I shrugged and thought how bad could it be, it is the taste that I like, just like orange juice or nice cold water from the fridge.
So I am off to the supermarket later with the unopened bottle in one hand and the bills (which I always insist on, why do they always ask, they should know by now in the same way that they don’t bother with the loyalty card question any more) in the other. I wonder if they will change it for a nice bottle of proper red wine.
I bought some Leffe ruby a while ago and it turned out to have 0% alcohol. I hadn’t noticed on buying it. OH wouldn’t touch it but it came in for a friend avoiding alcohol. Zero alcohol wine seems to be a bit of a thing in the UK. Screw tops are very British. I read that it gives you a headache, and that sugar is often added. Take it back David !
I am careful about alcohol levels as I take hepatoxic drugs, and my gripe is the reverse! With the climate changes more and more wines are now too high in alcohol for me. It used go be easy to find 12 - 13% wine, but now there is little under 14%. So I have tried quite a few non-alcoholic wines and some are ok’ish. Most are not!
Low and no alcohol beer by contrast has improved massively, and is very drinkable.
I’ve never found a 0% wine that was even slightly acceptable. Bog standard sirops were better than those. In our conversation group, we have a cahp who is starting out with a small cider farm and he also makes what he labels as “limonades” which are really rather nice. He does an elderflower one, which is elderflower pressé to my mind and also a similar one using silk tree flowers.
However, like David, it’s the taste I like about wine so the search goes on. Someone in the conversation group was telling me about an 11% one that is still made but I can’t remember what it was…
I’ve got into Sangria since moving down here and when we go “over” we stop at Perthuis where there is a supermarket that sells the best I have had, in plastic containers, not cheap but my goodness is it strong with a lot of brandy in it I buy the already made stuff sometimes in the bottles, add a good dose of Lidl brandy or rum, lots of fruit and hey presto off we go! I went off it big time in the late 70’s/early 80’s when we did seven years of Club 18-30 holidays and it was on every menu apart from the Italy trip and obviously we did drink rather a lot as you do at that age. I live in Muscat,Rivesaltes and Banyuls country so they are also another treat and much nicer from the local producers.
I did take it back but left it in the car while I went to choose 2 others. Took a long time because in my haste (it was nearly closing time) I left my specs in the car and couldn’t read the lables without holding them under direct light and squinting very hard.
No Herault so I chose a couple of Roche Mazet Merlots, 13%, and went to the checkout to explain. All ok so I fetched the red water from the car and they gave me the money back in cash and then charged the 2 new ones to the card.
Now what to do with the opened bottle of Merlot water, I hate to pour it away and I can’t mix it with anything else without ruining the newbie, but it really is undrinkable to my taste. I’ve got a little bit of cassis left that I no longer have a use for, perhaps that might produce, if not a happy marriage but maybe one of convenience.
Think it depends where you are in France and where you look - many SW wines are 12.5%, Cote de Gascogne is often 12%, I sometimes buy a local Coteaux de Quercy red that’s also 12% and SuperU do a 5 litre box of gamay that’s easy drinking. However much more interesting is the 5 litre 12% Sable de Camargue red (cab sauv, merlot and alicante) that I bought from the winemakers’ co-op at Aigues Mortes last week. In addition to the better known rosé, they also do a stronger chardonnay/viognier blend which is great value at €17 for 5 litres.
Re alcohol free - I’ve yet to taste a red that doesn’t resemble Ribena, but have had some acceptable whites from a winemaker at Pezenas who specialises in alcohol free wines and also has a sparkling wine.
The best alcohol free beer I’ve ever had is Windhoek lager from Namibia, where there’s a 100 year old German brewery whose beers still conform to the Reinheitsgebot purity law.
Cold beer/hot desert - great combo! https://global.windhoekbeer.com/
Cava and crémants are generally 11,5%; champagne around 12% (which for most people would qualify as being “around the 11,5% mark” )- but you might be correct that those from further south are higher. I would expect that to be the case.
I tried an alcohol free wine and it was pretty horrible. I have tried two beers which I found acceptable - Guinness and a Spanish one - Mahou Tostada. The latter better at room temperature I thought. We have a Tanqueray 0.0. To me it’s not much like gin, but with a tonic it’s a reasonable drink.