I will fully admit it. When I received the review samples from The Light Grape I approached them with a very big dose of skepticism. I do not have fond memories of other "light" wines I have sipped. (Skinny Girl California Red (or: I'll Take The Extra Calories, Please) So I opened them up not expecting much. They did have that waistline friendly thing going for them though, a plus given the fact that shorts/swimsuit season is upon us here in Winey land.
These wines have 80 calories for every 5 ounces you drink. (So I immediately planned on 160 calories, but that's they way I roll.) Since alcohol is the calorie culprit in wines usually, The Light Grape folks found a way to lower the alcohol by volume to 8.5%, but still keeping the wine flavor. Did they do a good job?
Let's start with the White Blend (2012, 8.5%, California) is a blend of mostly Pinot Grigio and Viognier. The nose gives off aromas of roses, lemongrass and a hint of melon. Fruity with a kick. The taste follows right along. It was citrusy tart and crisp. It left me with a juicy taste of citrus rind. Oh wow! It reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc - all summery temperatures and cooling citrus breezes. I was ready to call this the best of the bunch (I know, it was my first bottle, but remember how low my expectations were).
And then I tried the Rosé (2011, 8.5%, California). It's a pretty pink salmon color and smells of strawberry with a touch of ginger. The taste was, to put it mildly, amazing. Strawberry, some melon and some minerals. It had an overtone of some sweet honeysuckle (it was too light to be pure honey) and then it finished off tart and lively. I don't know how they did it with a Rosé, because some of them, even with their full measure of alcohol, can fall flat in the flavor column. But this was fruity and tart all at the same time. Full of flavor and crisply refreshing. Even if it wasn't "light", I'd be buying it.
So, happily optimistic, my next bottle was the Chardonnay (2012, 8.5%, California). The aromas of this Chardonnay were peach and basil. It tasted of white peach, some cantaloupe, and had some faint lemon around the edges. It had a lively feel - round at the center, thinner at the edges and finished juicy - just slightly fruity - with some oakiness to it. It was just an "o.k." taste and I have a feeling that light or not, it wouldn't be one of my favorite Chardonnays. This was the first of The Light Grape wines where I actually felt like I was drinking a light wine - I think I missed the flavor the extra alcohol would have added. But that's how I like my Chardonnays - you may feel differently.
My last taste was the Red Blend (2011, 8.5%, California). This is a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. I'll start out by saying right away that the more "light" reds I drink, the more I think that reds really need the extra alcohol and thus the extra calories. It smelled fine - cherries and some berry syrup. But right after you tasted that fruit and the oak it all fell apart. Where you'd expect the fruit and oak to lead to some warmish tannins and a smooth finish the whole thing just stopped. All I got was a dryness in my mouth and no taste at all. I'd have to go for the calories if it meant getting some flavor and depth. In the meantime, I'll be skipping this one.
BUT...for heaven's sake, do NOT forget the White Blend and the Rosé (or the Chardonnay if you like that type of Chardonnay). I mean, c'mon, it's summer and you can live on two whites and a Rosé until Labor Day, can't you? And keep in mind that as nice as they taste in your mouth, they will be nice on your hips and thighs as well!
I received these wines for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.