Opt for Tryanuary instead of going dry

Seedlip and Seifreid Zweigelt wines.

Seedlip and Seifreid Zweigelt wines. - Credit: Archant

Festive meals with many courses, rich foods especially puddings and cake with delicious wines can take their toll on our waistlines and livers and thoughts of giving them up are thrust upon us in the media proclaiming that dry January is the way forward as well as plain small meals.

However, although I applaud those who can stick with it, as you might have guessed, I’m not joining in Dry January as I know I would fail miserably within a week, but I am joining in with Tryanuary. By this I mean I’m trying to cut down on how much I eat and drink, aiming to do this by trying unusual wines and drinks and promoting quality not quantity!

Quality not quantity is the easy one – if you usually enjoy a couple of glasses of a £7 bottle for example why not have just one glass of a £10 bottle of wine. Simply look for a more expensive bottle of the type the wine you usually drink – for example Chilean Merlot is a lovely drink and widely available at £7 per bottle, if you spend a little more then the quality will be better and worth savouring and the theory goes that you will drink slower and be happy to drink less. This rule of thumb works for many wines including those from the Rhone Valley – the great value Cotes du Rhone wines can be replaced by a Cotes du Rhone Villages or a wine of a named village such as Seguret or Vinsobres for example.

Tryanuary means just what it says – an opportunity to try new wines. These can simply be new to you or from lesser known regions and grape varieties such as Zweigelt from New Zealand (its home is in Austria) made by Hermann at Seifried Estate or Alfrocheiro from the Alentejo in Portugal amongst others.

There are several wines that are lower in alcohol at circa 9 per cent such as those from Germany including many delicious dry or half dry Rieslings. If the thought of a German Riesling conjures up cheap Liebfraumilch then stop now, today’s Rieslings are full of crisp aromatic fruit flavours and make great aperitifs as well as accompaniments to spicy food instead of a rich red wine.

There are very few very low alcohol- or alcohol-free wines of any distinction so for a glass of something very low I enjoy a glass of the innovative drink ‘Croft Twist’ developed by the renowned sherry producers, Gonzalez Byass two summers ago. It is a take on the refreshing Andalusian ‘rebujito’ (which is Fino sherry, lemonade laden with ice and a garnish of mint). This British version is a lightly sparkling blend of freshly made elderflower, lemon and mint cordial with Croft Fino sherry and water. It is best served with a garnish of basil or mint and lots of ice and has an alcohol content of 5.5 per cent.

For gin drinkers when they’re not drinking Seedlip Gins, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits were launched in 2015 and provide a tasty antidote to the strong distilled products. The launch was timely as gin drinking was growing fast and to enjoy glass of something that (almost) tastes as good as the alcoholic version is great. Check out their spice and garden flavours with one of the myriad tonic flavours now on the market too that have grown out the development of the many distinctively flavoured gins.

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Of course, on the subject of healthy eating and restrained January consumption there is Veganuary – more of that anon but suffice it to say that a plethora of wines are vegan friendly.