Start 2019 with a dry-ish January

January tipples
January tipples

Gosh! Half-way through January already.

Those doing Dry January in an attempt to undo the festive excesses, can breathe a half sigh of relief – only another couple of weeks suffering left.

I know of at least one person that has combined this torture with Veganuary, for which he must deserve a medal for sheer endurance – together with a large steak and bottle of red on the first of February.

There is no denying that controlling the intake of alcohol on a regular basis is greatly beneficial, and some regular alcohol-free days, at the very least, should be considered by all. There are certain health benefits of drinking wine, but always within reason or else any benefit may be reversed.

For those who are wavering at the mid-point of the dry month, or others who simply still have a little tipple, but wish to lower the alcohol level, help is at hand.

Tapping into the consumer trends for sparkle, cocktails and lower alcohol, Croft Twist pushes all the right buttons. With a base of dry fino sherry from heritage brand Croft Original, there’s a touch of nostalgia in the mix too. Blended with natural elderflower, lemon and mint cordials from Belvoir fruit farms, and spritzed with a dash of sparkling spring water, Croft Twist’s 5.5 percent ABV is lower than most wines. At 74 calories per glass, it can also help with those New Year resolutions. Normally around £7.49 a bottle it is on offer at Waitrose and Ocado currently at £4.99.

Based on an Andalusian spritzer called a rebujito, it is made in the UK and advertised as ‘The Modern British Aperitif’. A fabulously fresh blend of aromatic elderflower, zesty lemon and cool mint, with a generous dash (25 percent) of premium Croft Fino for a sophisticated twist, finessed with fizz.

Curiously, I wrote an article about ‘sparkling sherry’, published on April 1 one year.

While this isn’t actually fizzy Sherry, it is sparkly and has a dry sherry base. The pigeons, as they say, have come home to roost.

If, however, you are sticking to your guns and going the whole hog, Belvoir Fruit Farms produce a whole range of delicious and characterful gently sparkling drinks and cordials, without a trace of alcohol. Keeping on the health track, there are no artificial ingredients and the ‘light’ versions have a lower sugar content, but the same full flavours. Cucumber and Mint Pressé served chilled over ice, is an aromatic and refreshing aperitif and if your will-power is flagging, is great as a mixer with gin or vodka.

The Elderflower Pressé Light is fabulous and one of my favourites is the Ginger Beer Light. Softly sparkly but with a good kick of ginger and low sugar.

For an impressive and satisfying Mocktail try the Belvoir Blueberry and Blackcurrant Mule. Fill a long glass three quarters with ice. Pour in 30ml of Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial and the same quantity of lime juice, stir to combine all ingredients well. Top with Belvoir Ginger Beer and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Sit back and enjoy, with a smug look on your face.

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.

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