Pizza Express and their low alcohol wines

Pizza Express's own Leggera red wine

Low alcohol wine. In the wine trade it’s a dirty little secret that wineries, esp but not limited to New World wineries, use de-alcoholizing machines to reduce alcohol in their wines but is there another way to make wine that is low in alcohol yet still has flavour and body?

Pizza Express has thrown down the gauntlet and is producing a low alcohol and low calorie wine the natural way. Not only are they promising low alcohol wines but they are also promising low calorie wines with both the red and white wines topping out at around 87 calories per glass with an ABV of 9% for white and 9.5% for red.

Adrian Garforth, MW

Pizza Express has been working with Adrian Garforth MW for the past six years to develop their wine list and recently he was charged with producing the low alcohol wines. I asked Adrian how they were going to do that. He explained that they were hoping to achieve low alcohol wines by judicious vineyard management, choosing the best locations, canopy management and grape picking at the optimal time. The vineyards for the white wines are located near Lake Garda which he feels is the best location for their low calorie, low alcohol wines.

So how did it taste? Well, as Adrian explained, they are going for wines that are uncomplicated and easy drinking. They have succeeded on that point. The Leggera pinot blanc was the first one tasted. Faint green apples on the nose and palate. Not a whole lot going on, not thin but not round either. I suppose if you want a glass in your hand while you’re eating and socializing, this white fills the bill.

lite and fruity

The Leggera red was a bit more exciting. A blend of sangiovese and 4% merlot from Sicily, the grapes were harvested early, the first week of  September. Adrian said that they first tried to make a 100% sangiovese but it didn’t have that certain juicyness that they were aiming for. Taking the wine samples back to England, Adrian spied a bottle of argentine malbec in the  lab and added a wee bit to the blend – perfect, just the right amount of juice to make the wine a bit more drinkable. Naturally, they don’t do malbec in Sicily (yet) so Adrian took his samples back with the added malbec and asked the winemakers what they could do. They came up with the merlot.

The verdict? Cherries and candy apple is what I got on the nose and palate. A fair bit of acidity but still soft and round. An easy going red, a bit more substantial then the white and I would order it with lunch if I knew I had an appointment in the afternoon. There is a rose is the works but it, as with the red and white, is a work in progress.

a 500 calorie pizza

An interesting experiment. If you’re looking for a low alcohol, low calorie wine you could do worse and so far, I haven’t found better. Pizza Express is promoting it as part of their Leggera menu, pizza and a glass of wine for less than 600 calories, worth taking a punt. Part of the night was  making our own leggera pizza, here’s me with my creation….

showing off my pizza creation

4 Comments

  1. judy corbalis /

    I like the red low calorie sangiovese whcih I tried at Pizza Express but where can I buy it? Neither Waitrose, nor our Italian deli, nor Tesco , Oddbins,or Sainsburys seem to have heard of the leggero variety.

  2. damn you beat me in completing the write up! But then I have been to France for a few days…

    I must say though that my opinions on the wines are totally the reverse of yours…

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