Tuesday, 17 January 2012


I buy wine for the label ... well not all the time but I make no apology for the fact that I do purchase a bottle if the label appeals. Men People gasp with incredulity but I am here to say I seldom buy a duff bottle.

Between Christmas and New Year we had a lovely meal in Salmon Arm with all the family gathered from the airts and pairts. The hotel served a good selection of wine including a range of Okanagan wines.

I fancied the name Rigmarole and we quaffed a few bottles. Look at the labels - lovely! They are a British Columbia winery and are based in Oliver (website is here) which is very close to the USA border, i.e. located in the south of the province.

This Sunday I was reading in the Financial Times an article by Jancis Robinson. It is here. This highly respected journalist/wine taster of many years states that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) did a study which showed that the alcohol content of many bottles of wine was greater than that printed on the label. While there is always room for a slight variation the difference, in some cases, was considerable. And then she goes on to look at the reason for this. It is to do with the wish for greater sugar content in grapes, i.e. later picking, and as a consequence of this the alcohol level is higher.

"For a working paper published last May by the American Association of Wine Economists, tens of thousands of alcohol levels for wines imported between 1992 and 2007 by the LCBO, the powerful liquor monopoly of Ontario that buys wines from all over the world, were analysed and compared with actual temperature increases in their regions of origin. The wine economists were able to show that the increase in average alcohol levels was much greater than could be explained by any change in climate and concluded 'our findings lead us to think that the rise in alcohol content of wine is primarily man-made'. They cited in particular 'evolving consumer preferences and expert ratings' as more likely to have driven up alcohol levels. In other words, wine producers perceive that wine consumers and authorities alike want wines that taste riper and in particular have softer tannins and lower acidity (acid levels fall as grapes ripen) and have deliberately chosen to have grapes picked later than they once were."

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