Christine Austin samples a new range of lower-alcohol wines and picks out her dozen best of the rest on the M&S shelves

If you are watching your weight but still want to enjoy a good glass of wine then three new wines on the shelves at Marks and Spencer might be of interest.

Sumika Sauvignon Blanc, Sumika Shiraz and Sumika Rosé 2017 from South Africa are all lower in alcohol than most wines, but they still taste good.

Checking in at just 8.5% alcohol, when most wines are around 12.5% to 14%, these have reduced levels of alcohol because they have been put through a machine known as a spinning cone. This works pretty much in the same way as a spin drier, but instead of expelling water from clothes, the cone spins round fast enough to separate alcohol from wine.

Generally if you do this the whole balance of the wine changes and it ends up having a thin, disappointing texture which has to be bulked up with sugar, but M&S has managed to avoid this. There is a tiny bit of sweetness in the wines, but not so much to change the taste.

Sumika Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is a lively fresh-tasting wine with floral notes and tropical fruit flavours of passion fruit, peach and pineapple. It is perfect for drinking as an aperitif or with a salad or fish. With just 8.5% alcohol and a tiny amount of residual sugar remaining from the wine grapes it has just 50 Calories per 100 ml glass. This is around 30% less than most white wines.

Sumika Shiraz 2017 is soft, rounded with red fruity flavours of blackberry and dark plum. There the merest whiff of oak which gives the wine enough structure and style to cope with red meat and chicken. Again, with around 50 Calories per 100 ml glass this is a great way to moderate your alcohol and calorie consumption.

Sumika Rosé 2017 is made from Cinsault grapes and has light strawberry fruit with a refreshing finish. All Sumika wines sell at £7.50, in store and online.



This new range of low-calorie Sumika wines from South Africa was just one of the highlights of the M&S wine range which is consistently moving forward with new wines and vintages. Overall this is a well-chosen selection with interest from the bargain end of the price range up to top-quality dinner party wines. It is not surprising that Marks and Spencer won the title ‘Supermarket of the Year’ at the International Wine Challenge 2017.

If your M&S is in the centre of town and you don’t want to carry the bottles home then you can order their full range online at

Apart from the lower-calorie Sumika wines, here are my top dozen wines from M&S



Pinot Grigio IGT, Venezie, Italy £8

Some Pinot Grigios have little or no flavour but this one is just how it should be. With aromas of ripe pears, backed by clean lemon and lime notes. Fresh and lively, it makes a great aperitif.





Gaston de Veau Chardonnay 2016, Languedoc, France, £8.50

A stylish, easy drinking, peachy-pineapple Chardonnay that will drink well throughout autumn with fish, white meats and salads.



Castillo de Monterey Godello 2016, Monterrei, Spain, £9.50

Godello is the grape, a once-rare Spanish variety, now being replanted to create wines with rounded peach and pineapple fruit backed by citrus zest. Perfect with fish but it has enough concentration to cope with a whole buffet-full of flavours.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner 2016, Kamptal, Austria, £9.50

A great combination of white floral notes, crunchy apples and a sprinkling of white pepper makes this a food wine with a difference. Totally dry, it has structure and a minerally finish. Team it with an asparagus risotto, grilled white fish or salads.

Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Western Australia, £11

The cool ocean breezes in Margaret River keep flavours fresh and lively which show particularly well in this wine. 77% Semillon give tropical fruit while Sauvignon Blanc adds zippy lime freshness. This is a gorgeous wine to team with scallops, lobster or chicken.

Chavy Chouet Bourgogne Blanc 2016, France, £36 for a Magnum

Sourced from a single 14ha vineyard which lies just outside the boundary of Puligny Montrachet this is a fabulous wine to buy in for the festive season. One big bottle shared around a table is an impressive way to start a meal. Team it with starters, fish or even roast turkey for those guests who prefer white wine.


House Red Wine, Utiel-Requena, Spain, £5

One of the cheapest bottles on M&S shelves. Is it any good? Definitely! Packed with simple, easy-drinking red berry fruit. Enjoyable any night of the week with whatever you are having for supper.

Côtes du Rhône 2016, France, £6

Astonishing flavour for money in this sunshine-filled, juicy, lightly spiced, mulberry and blackcurrant-filled wine. Keep some in stock for Wednesday night suppers, for drinking with lamb, pasta, sausages and cheese.


Vinalta Malbec 2016, Mendoza, Argentina, £8.50

From vines grown at 1200 metres above sea level on the slopes of the Andes, where night-time temperatures plummet giving the vines time to rest and keep their freshness. This is a chunky, ripe Malbec wine, full of damson and cassis fruit, edged with spice. Terrific value and great to pour alongside a steak.

Domaine de Lavail Old Vines Carignan 2015, Côtes Catalans, France, £10

A chunky, bramble-filled, herb-dusted and liquorice toned wine. Old vines produce deep, concentrated flavours and this one is deliciously powerful – just perfect alongside a winter casserole.

Nicosia Etna Rosso 2015, Sicily, Italy, £11 

Made from local grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio this is fresh with the scent of sage and thyme and a palate of wild cherries, cranberries and tobacco.




Iona One Man Band Red, 2013, Elgin, South Africa, £16

A fabulous blend of Rhône and Bordeaux varieties which might be muddled if they didn’t have Andrew Gunn’s meticulous winemaking skills behind them. From the cool ridge of Elgin which catches ocean breezes this is a cassis and damson-filled wine, harmonious and elegant – perfect for drinking with a Sunday roast. The one-man band refers to this unusual blend of grapes, each one contributing its own notes of flavour, blending together.










About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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