5 Lower-Alcohol Bottles You Should Try This Summer, According to Our Wine Expert

published Jun 11, 2022
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Summer wines on dinner table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman / Food Stylist: Anna Stockwell

Summer always presents a quandary. The weather lends itself to lounging outside, and lounging is so much better with a refreshing adult beverage. But it’s also hot, so a full-bodied, high-alcohol wine just seems like Too Much (i.e., a headache waiting to happen). The solution? Lower-alcohol wines that give you just the right amount of buzz.

In anticipation of summer, I’ve rounded up my favorite lower-alcohol wines that are perfect for sipping all summer. I’ve categorized them by how they’ll make you feel — because atmosphere is key to creating the ideal summer leisure situation. 

Credit: Diane McMartin

1. Angelo Negro The Piedmont Guy Vino Rosso

To feel like you just got back from Italy, try the Angelo Negro. Made from brachetto in Italy’s Piedmont region, it’s perfect served chilled on a hot day — and at 13%, it’s on the lower side for a red wine. It’s wonderfully aromatic, like fresh rainier cherries and rose petals, but dry and refreshing. It’ll make you feel casually sophisticated, which is almost as satisfying as setting up an auto-reply that says you’ll be “out of the country with limited access to email.” 

Buy: Angelo Negro The Piedmont Guy Vino Rosso, $21.99 for 750 ml at Vivino

Credit: Diane McMartin

2. Cinsault Pays D’oc Le Petit Balthazar Rosé

To feel like a Coastal Grandmother (on a budget), try this super-light, tart little rosé from Pierrick Harang, Le Petit Balthazar. At 11% alcohol and around $10 a bottle, you can afford to drink this all summer, bring it to a friend’s house, or even pour it into a water bottle and drink it at the beach. It’s the perfect “house rosé,” and having a rosé that people associate with you and your home is peak Coastal Grandmother. All you need now is a pair of linen pants.

Buy: Cinsault Pays D’oc Le Petit Balthazar Rosé, $10 for 750 ml at Vivino

Credit: Diane McMartin

3. Ameztoi Stimatum Hondarrabi Beltza

To feel like a real gourmet, grill a flank steak with a smoky, spicy rub, and enjoy it with the Ameztoi Stimatum Hondarrabi Beltza. Spain’s Basque region is mostly known for the white version of Txacoli, a bracingly tart, fizzy white that’s amazing with seafood. But don’t sleep on red Txacoli. Made from hondarribi beltza, it combines the low alcohol (12%) and slight fizz of white txacoli with surprisngly robust, dark berry flavors and a little something earthy as well. 

Buy: Ameztoi Stimatum Hondarrabi Beltza, $24.99 (on sale) for 750 ml at

Credit: Diane McMartin

4. Nortico Alvarinho

To feel like you’re spending a few weeks at your seaside cabin, try the Nortico Alvarinho. Albarino (called alvarinho in Portugal) is usually part of the blend that makes up Vinho Verde, a fizzy, fruity young white, but more and more wineries in Portugal are bottling it as a standalone variety, having seen Spain’s success with the grape. At 13% alcohol, the result is crisp and light, with a whisper of pineapple and peachy fruit. Grill some fish, serve it with a fruit salsa, and turn your back deck into one of those absurdly lush and perfect-looking lifestyle spreads from mid-2000s era food magazines. This will fit right in.

Buy: Nortico Alvarinho, $13.99 for 750 ml at

Credit: Diane McMartin

5. Maximin Grunhaus MAXiMiN Riesling

To feel like a cool kid, try an off-dry riesling like the Maximin Grunhaus MAXiMiN Riesling. Riesling is much beloved by Cool Wine People — and by me, even though I’m definitely not cool. There is some sweetness here, but just like in lemonade or one of those fun, fruity iced tea drinks from Starbucks, the sweetness is balanced by mouthwatering acidity. The combination is kind of like adult lemon-lime soda and can be dangerously drinkable. But because not all the sugar in these grapes was fermented into alcohol (it contains 11.5%), you can drink a little more before you condemn yourself to snoozing through your morning workout. 

Buy: Maximin Grunhaus MAXiMiN Riesling, $19.99 for 750 ml at Vivino

Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.