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Alcohol Levels in Wine

How accurate is the alcohol percentage on the front label of a bottle of Pinot Noir? The fact is, the indicator of alcohol percentage is almost always on the low side of the actual alcohol percentage. If the labeled wine is less than 14% alcohol, there can be a 1.5% variance in the true alcohol content (ie, a 13.9% wine can be labeled as 12.4% - 13.9%). If the alcohol level in the wine is greater than 14%, there can be a 1% variance (ie, a 15% wine can be labeled as low as 14%). The answer then is that wines can have significantly more alcohol than the stated percentage on the label.

Do alcohol levels in wine matter? Well, higher alcohol wines will sure get you sideways a lot quicker. And if you are eating out and driving, this is a major consideration. In a recent letter to the editor of Wine & Spirits magazine, Bartholomew Broadbent (Broadbent Selections in San Francisco, California) urged restaurant owners to list alcohol percentages of wines on their wine lists.

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