At least that was one wine critic's opinion of the new Sumika brand from Marks & Spencer.
Credit: Courtesy of Marks & Spencer

When it comes to reducing the number of calories in boozy beverages, they all suffer from the same problem: Alcohol itself contains calories. As a result, "light" takes on beer and wine have to carefully choose where to make their cuts, either in flavor or in ABV. But a new line of wine that's arrived at the British chain Marks & Spencer purports to cut its calories while keeping its bite: axing half the calories while maintaining two-thirds of the alcohol and, at least according to one critic, maintaining its flavor.

Called "Sumika" (Japanese for "light"), this low-cal wine has been craft for M&S by a South African winery called Journey's End. According to the Daily Mail, these tipples begin life as superior wines that are then passed through a spinning machine to remove alcohol before have a touch of non-fermented grape juice added back in to boost their flavor. Though this process is nothing new, well-known British wine critic Jilly Goolden, who's worked with the BBC and published a number of best-selling books, has given this new product her seal of approval. "'This is a breakthrough," she told the paper. "So far low-alcohol and low-calories have been a great disappointment. Some are disgusting. But this is a great step forward."

Sumika comes in three different varieties: Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose, offering about 50 calories per 100 milliliter serving across the board compared to the typical 80 to 100 calories this size glass would normally have. As a result, the alcohol content is only 8.5 percent: significantly less than the 11 to 14 percent range most wines fall into, but as the Independent points out, still far stronger that the 5.5 percent alcohol in competitor Aldi's Featherweight wines that also boast half the calories of a normal glass.


However, it's worth remembering that "a breakthrough" and "a great step forward" doesn't necessarily equate to a good wine. These wines could just be better than their "disgusting" competitors. The Sauvignon Blanc promises "refreshing flavours of elderflower, passionfruit and peach;" the Shiraz offers "mocha, blackberry and spice notes;" and the Rose claims to taste like "wild strawberries and raspberries." They're the kind of tasting notes that really could go either way. Luckily, at just £7.50 a bottle (about $10), at least you won't go broke giving them a try. Though since, unlike Aldi, Marks & Spencer is only in the U.K., the flight over will certainly set you back.

This article originally appeared in Food & Wine