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Quality not quantity

Dry January; a decision many folk undertake, swapping the guilty gustatory excesses of Christmas for a cleansing start to the New Year. While it would be foolhardy to question such endeavour, perhaps there’s also some viable middle ground to tread too. By all means lets advocate restraint, but should the opportunity arise then lets also choose quality over quantity (every time) and opt to take a walk on the lighter side.

Here are a few wine and beer suggestions to wet the whiskers.

Becoming a staple beer style for many breweries is the low alcohol session ale, usually around 3%. The goal being to mimic the flavoursome hoppy characteristics and body of an IPA or APA without the associated alcohol levels (around 5 – 7% abv).

Siren Craft Brew, based in Berkshire, manage to cram an inordinate amount of flavour into their QIPA (Quarter Indian Pale Ale) called Half Mast, despite the beer registering at just 2.8% abv. From Bermondsey there’s The Kernel Brewery’s Table Beer, usually around 3% abv complete with soft carbonation and signature hoppiness. In a marginally more discreet style and new to our shelves this week from Cloudwater Beer Co of Manchester is their Winter Light beer. A very pale almost straw coloured ale, which houses a zingy bitterness, clean refreshing flavours and an abv of 3.5%.

Switching to some vinous offerings, first up there is Beaujolais to consider, too often skimmed over and as such a source of good value. This old vine Morgon from Laurent Gauthier, at 12.5%, is quite masculine for the region yet displays ample finesse too. Aged in oak for 4 months there’s a core of bright cherry fruit, smooth herbal notes with subtle peach and apricot flavours.

We’ve stocked this Garda Classico (12% abv) from Italy for several years simply because (in a similar vein to the Morgon) it’s a well crafted lighter style of red wine, flying under the radar at a decent price – attributes we like. A traditional blend of Gropello, Sangiovese, Marzemino and Barbera grapes, this houses pure raspberry fruit, soft red cherries, floral tints and a bright acidity.

Weighing in with 91 points out of 100 from esteemed wine critic Robert Parker but measuring only only 9.5% in alcohol is this Riesling Kabinett from one of Germany’s greatest wine makers Donnhoff. This is a medium dry style; importantly, the sweetness is offset by a racy acidity, mouth-watering citrus fruit, piquant sherbert and a dash of smoke.

Finally, let’s not forget the crisp, clean and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc wines of the Loire, most of which clock in at around 12% to 12.5% abv. Think Sancerre or Pouilly Fume for classical options but don’t discard the regions well priced alternatives like this.  For under £10 though we can’t ignore The Holy Snail, one of our top selling white wines. Exotic fruit, ripe peach, citrus and gentle floral infused aromatics.

So it doesn't necessarily have to be a dry Jan; our recommendations are more akin to rolling up your trousers for a respectable paddle than donning some Speedos and diving head first in to the deep end.


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