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April 12, 2010

Alcohol in wine

I was just reading the Decanter. As I stated before, I am very careful when reading (if at all) such mgazines. Really, to me it is almost a joke (sorry...). Journalists trying to outsmart one another. With this, I mean the wine-rating part of such papers. And endless lists of rankings. I very much insist to have my own likes or dislikes about a wine - or not. But I am definitely not letting Roberts and Parkers strearing my very own private wine cellar or run my tastebuds. To me, those ratings also carry the risk of leading to uniformation. How boring!

What I like to read though, is the story about a winery and the people behind. The regions, and to get inspiration about matching food. And when it gets down to facts... Like what I just read about: alcohol in a wine.

I sometimes hear people rejecting every wine that is high in alcohol. Almost, as if you are expected to do so, if you 'know' about wine. But to me, that is only part of the truth. I have tasted wines with 14 and 15% abv where I perceived the alcohol being integrated, because other elements of the wine were holding up against it. The fruit, the acidity, tannins. Then on the contrary, some wines with only 13%, can seem very alcoholic, because the other components are too weak. Often, a wine higher in alcohol will seem bolder and less elegant. But sometimes it can be nice to be bold, right? And how boring would it be to drink elegant wines only! Just as boring as drinking bold wines only...

I like Mr Engerer's (Chateau Latour) quote in the magazine: Please do not see 14% as the yellow line....balanced fruit expression seems to hide behind the fruit.....depends on place and variety.

However, I still would like to learn more about the process of decisions that leads up to the final degree of alcohol. The phenolic ripeness of the grape, the yields, timing of picking grapes, all only factors within a complex process. Maybe go and work for some winery to learn that?

On the other hand, it is said, (and I have heard that from winemakers, too) that the accuracy of the label seems to not be taken all too serious, tolerances can be up to 1.5%. So: what are we talking about after all?

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