Across the board experts agree that the percentage of alcohol a wine boasts can directly affect the quality of the drink in question. So saying this, what percentage of alcohol should be looking for in your bottle of wine?
At the Ideal Wine Company we’ve seen alcohol percentage directly affect the drinking experience; too low and it can often come out tasting like juice and too high and the heady experience the drink creates can limit your ability to actually enjoy the flavour.
A recent culture has emerged for the production of low alcohol wines (particularly white). Those in favour argue the case based on health and taste grounds and consumers across the world seem to be embracing low alcohol and non-alcoholic wines.
However a study was recently conducted that proves that at least in the case of red wine, this perception is somewhat misguided across the wine industry. The study showed that consumers generally preferred red wines measuring a 13.6% alcohol content.
The study was conducted by the Australia Wine Research Institute; spearheaded by lead author of the study Dr Keren Bindon. It saw a series of five Cabernet Sauvignon’s whose grapes had been harvested between one and four weeks apart, sampled by 100 consumers.
The bottles in question had alcohol content ranging from 11.8% to 15.5%, the usual range for alcoholic content in wine. The study discovered that those wines with “intermediate alcohol levels” (13.6% according to the study) were most favoured by consumers. Those with lower alcohol contents, 11.8% and 12.9% came in second and third.
This also pointed to trends concerned the ripeness of the fruit used in wine production. Those with lower alcoholic content were picked earlier in the season, those with higher alcoholic content later. He study concluded that those picked later in the season were preferred by the population sample.
Bindon has since explained that she thought that wines with even higher alcohol content, ranging between 14.2% and 15.5% would be favoured by consumer, however she went on to say that the study proved that consumers didn’t agree. She went on to say that this means that “you can actually bring alcohol down naturally in the vineyard, as you’re not gaining anything from a consumer standpoint by waiting for flavour and texture to change.”
At the Ideal Wine Company we find the results of this study fascinating. Furthermore we think that this goes some way to proving that there is always more to learn about wine; you never know it all.