Monday, May 2, 2011

The Debate On Alcohol Rages On - Or Does It?

In every subculture there are always dialogs that presume those in the real world give a hoot.  The wine writing subculture is no different, except that these dialogs often find themselves published.

One of these ongoing, presumptive themes is the matter of alcohol content in wine.  The two main threads of this dialog are:
  1. Many wines are getting too high in alcohol
  2. Many wineries are under reporting alcohol content on their labels
Before digesting these two, an observation:  Despite how agitated many wine industry insiders are on this subject - supposedly on consumers' behalf - in reality, consumers couldn't give a shit about either issue.

Anti High Alcohol: Sommelier Rajat Parr
Now, let's debunk both of these concerns:


Many wines are getting too high in alcohol.  This is mostly directed at the high octane (14-15%+) New World wines that have enjoyed critical acclaim.  After all, most Old World wines hover around 13%.  The argument here is self explanatory: too much alcohol will detract from a wine's quality.  This is such bullshit nonsense.  (There was even a whole faux pa at the World Of Pinot Noir conference proving how little experts can tell based on what's in the glass.) 

Some wines do taste hot as a result of their alcohol content not being in balance with its other components, regardless its of alcohol level.  Bottom line: like barnyard animal flavors, alcohol is not a desirable sensation characteristic in wine.  Numbers don't prove that, palates do.

Many wineries are under reporting alcohol content on their labels.  This is about as revealing as discovering that people cheat on their taxes.  In fact, it is people cheating on their taxes.  The higher the alcohol rating, the higher the taxes on the wine.  Of course wineries are going to be reluctant to boast about alcohol content. 

Still, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a juicy tell-all on the matter, doing their own testing on 19 different wines.  The result of this big exposé?  The worst offender was off by a whopping 1.07%.  Good heavens!  Whats' more is that 25% of the wines the tested were actually accurate or over reporting alcohol ratings.  Talk about anticlimactic.  Bottom line: As grandma used to say, "Who the hell cares?"

Seriously, when was the last time you looked at the alcohol content on a label as a purchasing factor?  Ever?

1 comment:

  1. I never, ever look at the ABV rating as a purchasing factor. Ever.

    ReplyDelete

Please add your comment here: