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Bodega Aizpurua Txakoli 2019

Getariako Txakolina, Spain, $21

Family-owned and -operated winery Bodega Aizpurua resides in Spain’s northern Basque region, along the well-known pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago. It has been producing the classic wines peculiar to this region for over 100 years. Txakoli is naturally light-bodied, low alcohol, and slightly fizzy. Unlike many lower-alcohol wines that have a correspondingly higher percentage of residual sugar, this wine is deliciously dry, with less than a half-gram of sugar per liter.

Aizpurua Txakoli is crafted completely from the native hondarrabi zuri grape, the dominant white variety in this region. Upon pouring this straw-yellow wine, a blanket of dainty bubbles coats the glass with the delicate effervescence characteristic of these wines. Tropical fruit and floral notes slowly rise from the glass, swayed by pineapple, which is joined on the palate by green apple and citrus. The mouthfeel is light, and bubbles, just barely detectable on the tongue, combine with crisp acidity for a fresh and lively feeling. The wine’s finish is gently caressed by a seawater brininess. Although typically paired with pintxos (tapas-like foods that highlight the local cuisine), Txakoli would be equally great company for fried oysters (raw oysters, if you’re counting calories), grilled prawns, or smoked salmon tartine. Or enjoy alone as an aperitif.

This is an exciting wine with only 11 percent ABV for a naturally lighter experience.

Cense Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Marlborough, New Zealand, $18

In response to consumer demand for health-conscious options, both existing wineries and new brands specifically created for this purpose have begun producing wines lower in alcohol and calories. While almost impossible to create such wines without sacrificing something in the process, Cense Cellars has succeeded in striking a balance in its lineup of lower-calorie wines. Endorsed by Weight Watchers, Cense Cellars released its first wine in 2017, a sauvignon blanc with only 85 calories per five-ounce serving.

Cense Sauvignon Blanc is produced from grapes grown in Marlborough, a region known for making fantastically fruit-forward versions of this variety. This wine’s golden-yellow hue shines through the glass bottle. If one were to sniff this wine in a blind tasting, they would be hard-pressed to identify its “diet wine” status; its powerful aroma is redolent of lime, green melon, and grapefruit, infused with green herb undertones. The palate is brimming with citrus and tropical fruit notes, and a zesty core of acidity. The only hint at its lighter status comes on the green-apple finish, which fades a little too fast. This easy-to-drink wine will complement a multitude of salads, chicken and fresh herbs in wine sauce, and tuna steak burgers with green goddess dressing. 

Cense Sauvignon Blanc is a lower calorie wine that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on the real thing.

Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais-Villages Le Perréon 2018

Beaujolais, France, $16

There is not a great deal of difference among red grapes when it comes to calories but, if you had to choose one, gamay would be a logical choice. Usually grown in cooler regions (less sugar) and vinified on the lower end of the ABV spectrum, gamay might help you shave a few calories off compared to those big cabs you’ve been enjoying. Domaine de la Madone has a stellar reputation for producing top-quality wines from gamay in the grape’s spiritual home of Beaujolais.

The elegant Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais-Villages Le Perréon, made from 100 percent gamay,is a stunning shade of pale purple. The bottle opens with dark-red fruit akin to boysenberries, entwined with notes of black tea leaves. The palate is complex, beginning with black currants, which are then layered with tree bark and violet licorice pastilles. Although its dark-fruit heart is evident, there is a distinctly earthy, almost savory, quality to this wine. Medium-bodied, this Beaujolais is well balanced, with velvety smooth tannins and crisp acidity accompanying the taster on their journey from beginning to end. Enjoy this food-friendly wine alongside Herbes de Provence roast chicken, chili-rubbed pork chops, and duck breast with plum sauce.

Warning: this wine is so delectable, whatever calories might be avoided by drinking gamay could reappear in that extra glass you’ll feel compelled to pour.

Renée B. Allen, CSW, FWS, CSS, is a wine and spirits expert and the director of the award-winning Wine Institute of New England, which offers wine and spirits education and events. Allen is a professor at the University of New Haven, a wine competition director and judge, and can be seen on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.

This article appears in the April 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.