With lowered voices, California Port wine are talking about the high alcohol content of today’s popular wines. These winemakers are anxious because of the steep competition within the wine industry. With more competition than ever before, the consensus is that high alcohol wines will sell better. Many of these winemakers are taking this direction, even when they don’t actually approve of high alcohol wines. This article details the trend toward higher alcohol wines.
The trend toward high alcohol wines is blamed on Robert Parker. Considered the most influential wine writer in the world, he developed the industry standard 100-point system for evaluating wine. Since Robert Parker tends to reward high alcohol wines, especially red wines, with high scores, winemakers are responding by making wines with higher alcohol content and wine clubs are making these wines available to members. Even though Robert Parker set the standard for high alcohol content wines (jumping from 12.5% to 14.5% and higher), it seems consumers and wine of the month club members are also responding as sales of these wines have increased.
Wine experts believe that over the past 15 years, consumers have turned from occasional wine drinkers into wine enthusiasts as wine clubs have become increasingly popular. They are not only drinking wine with meals but are also drinking wine alone as a cocktail, without accompanying food.
Many consumers and wine of the month club members like the taste of wine, especially red wine, without food. These red wines are smooth because the grapes used are riper. The tannins in the skins of the grapes that contribute to the texture are softer with riper grapes, they taste sweeter, and they have less acid. These qualities are not as important in wine consumed with food at dinner. With a meal, people prefer acidic wines that have texture and tannins that refresh in addition to an absence of strong fruit flavors that compete with the flavor of the foods.
In addition to preferring high alcohol wines, consumers and wine clubs are trending toward red wines over white. Many experts believe this is because there is less of a preference for a fruity taste with food and the health benefits of red wine touted by medical professionals. In addition, wine of the month club surveys report have found that men seem to think of white wine as more of a woman’s drink and tend to see red wine as more masculine.
Most people don’t know that the alcohol content of wines can have a huge impact on their wine cellar. Unfortunately, bottles of wine with an alcohol content of more than 15% won’t last in storage. The acid in these wines, which is the single most important element contributing to the longevity of a wine, simply won’t last, especially in wines like Zinfandels. Another way high alcohol wines affect you, is that you can only drink a little bit of 15% alcohol wine if you expect to drive home, whereas you could have more of a 12.5% alcohol content wine.
Lastly, high alcohol wines lose their varietal character after a while, resulting in them all tasting alike. For example, over a period of time, Cabernet, Syrah, and Zinfandel wines possessing a high alcohol content will eventually be indistinguishable from one another. The unique taste of wine only comes at a lower alcohol level. So, if you’re a wine of the month club fan of Cabernet, you’ll have more flavor at 12.5% than at 15% alcohol content. By keeping the alcohol content of a wine in mind, you’ll always find a wine that suits your palette, whether it is a lower alcohol wine with a burst of flavor or a popular higher alcohol content wine available from wine clubs.