Torres Natureo ‘wines’ might help the Dry January blues

Torres Natureo Red low alcohol wine review

If you’ve managed to get this far into 2015 without touching a drop of alcohol, then well done. Not long to go now, my Dry January heroes. Soon you can have a February glass of something.

For those of you with a detox backbone, here’s a trio of wines, which aren’t wines any more. Let me explain.

The Torres Natureo range – white red and rosé – all started life as a wine. They were produced from muscat grapes (white) syrah (red) and a blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon (rosé).

Torres Natureo low alcohol wine review
Torres Natureo low alcohol wines

They are made traditionally then de-alcoholised using a canny extraction system which, I’m told, “keeps all the grape’s aromas, antioxidants, vitamins and mineral salts, leaving only the barest trace of alcohol (0.5 per cent) and 25-35 calories in a glass”.

Torres Natureo White (RRP £5, ASDA, Waitrose, Ocado, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Noble Green, Vintagemarque.com) It is a pale yellow, with bright aromas of grapes, lemons and crisp green apples. When you taste, it squeaks a sweet-cheek lively slice of apples and limes which really starts your tastebuds watering. It’s a palate cleanser that’s for sure, but for some it might just be too sweet.

Torres Natureo Red (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, Hoults, Noble Green, Vintagemarque.com) smells of redcurrants squished and squashed on top of a vanilla cheesecake. It was a deep red fruit juice, such as a blend of pomegranate and cranberry; a liquidised fruit pastille. I really missed a backdrop of alcohol in this red; but with it, well it wouldn’t be Natureo would it.

Torres Natureo Rosé (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, The drinkshop.com, Last Drop Wines, Vintagemarque.com) which is a light mauve. Red berries and blackcurrants hover on the edge of the glass. If you like your rosé sweet you will probably like this. I thought it was thin and lacking in substance.

In other news, I have a new fridge gadget, which delivers ice at the click of a button. I clicked and crackled some ice into each of the Natureo styles.

Torres Natureo low alcohol wines review
Try with a drop of ice!

The white was very refreshing; the red should make a nice base for a non-alcoholic icy fruit mocktail. The rosé remained unassuming.


Also in my glass…

It’s Australia Day on January 26 and our Aussie cousins will be enjoying the sunshine, lighting up the barbie and no doubt opening a good hearty Australian shiraz to mark the occasion.

So if you can’t beat them …. Wirra Wirra Catapult 2012 (RRP £14.50, M&S, Oddbins) is a deep red, sturdy and forthright, a no-messing Aussie shiraz.

Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz review
Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz

There’s plums on the nose, chocolate, chopped wood and a savoury whisper. It flits in the mouth from bursting red berries to spice and herbs. There’s a feather touch of floral viognier, as the winemakers have followed a wine-making style from the northern Rhone by adding a tiny percentage of the grape to the fermentation process.

Also from Wirra Wirra, an unoaked chardonnay. If you cast aside Aussie chardonnay because you think it is all over-oaked, then Scrubby Rise Unoaked Chardonnay (RRP £9.99 Tesco) should surprise. It is clean and bright, crisp and lemony, with undercurrents of peach and nectarine.

Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 review
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013

Then, finally, a frizzly sweet delight. Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 is £7.99 from Ocado and I just love the name. Mrs Wigley was a pussy cat which made herself perfectly at home in the Wirra Wirra vineyards in McLaren Vale.

This is a take-it-easy January 4.5% abv and has wisps of roses, dried strawberry and flowers with a gentle melon and sherbert spritz. Close your eyes and wish away the winter.

Published in the saturday extra magazine January 24, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Riesling helps to start a healthy New Year. Kind of.

Berry's Own Selection riesling wine review

GOOD luck to everyone who has decided to begin 2014 with a dry January – 31 days without touching alcohol.

I thought about it. It took less than 30 seconds to be convinced that as a person who writes a drinks column, I might find it difficult to give up alcohol for a month.

I’ve walked over hot coals, won comedy stand-up and jumped out of planes , all for charity,  but when it comes to saying “no” to a tipple, I have the backbone of a jellyfish.

So instead, I’ll be reducing my alcohol levels. This week, white wines, all riesling.
Lower alcohol rieslings are on the sweeter side, as not all of the sugars have been turned into alcohol in the fermentation process.

Max Ferd Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Kabinett 2011, (£13.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk, 9.5%abv) is a spikey refreshing treat after days of festive feasting. It has crisp red apples and stone fruits on the nose; then to sip – and the reward is a mouth-filling juiciness of apples, berries and apricot with a slatey contrast of dry flint.Mosel Riesling Kabinett Berry & Bros review

Berry’s Mosel Riesling Kabinett 2011, J & H Selbach (£9.75, Berry Bros & Rudd, 10%, abv) is emboldened with citrus; has honey-edged flowers and a memory of marzipan on the nose plus a thrill of excited fruit-laden acidity with a seam of minerality.

Morrisons (www.morrisons cellar.com) give all their wines a profile rating from 0-12, with 0 being sweet and 12 being its most intense. Its M Mosel Riesling (£6.99, 8.5% abv) sits at number three on the scale; sweet but edging towards fresh. It has very light lemon sherbet and floral notes on the nose; wispy with nectarines on a distant breeze. To taste, there’s sharp-and-sweet apples and sherbert lemon, a tight acidity, but with little depth.

Over to the New World. The Paddler Marlborough Riesling 2012 (9.5% abv, £12.89, RannochScott.co.uk and other independents) is named after New Zealand winemaker Matt Thompson’s enthusiasm for kayaking. On the nose there’s some stone fruit but also flowers, honeysuckle and a wave of jasmine. Bright lemon flavours shoot sweet acidic, long-lasting bursts into the mouth, but there’s also a tongue-dabbing dryness too.