High Alcohol Wines ~ Who was the first real whistle blower, anyway?

As little as six months ago, it seemed for some vintners that Dan Berger, in his Vintage Experiences, had become a broken record…

“High Alcohol, high alcohol… I wish he’d write about something else,” I heard more than once from a few colleagues.

I had just reached the point of shrugging my shoulders. (I didn’t even want to get into it, because the vintners all loved what they were doing, and I wasn’t going to be influencing them, so why bother… Pick your battles, as the saying goes.) Dan thought what he thought, was beating a drum that he was passionate about, and he had already turned my tide of thinking. For me, it was okay for him to continue to bring this up, because more and more wines were headed over the top with 15 to 16.5 percent alcohol, which meant that winemakers weren’t paying attention, yet.

With Dan’s comments about “high alcohol” becoming an unpleasant trend of winemakers, I had already began to realize that he was right. It was sweepingly becoming out of control. Unlike Dan, I wasn’t getting copious samples sent to me, so I wasn’t seeing the real curve.

All of a sudden the high alcohol issue seems to now be everywhere, with everyone debating the issue. And, it’s all for the same reasons that Dan initially brought out about three years ago (not so food friendly, and the loss of ageability, never mind the dizzying effects). It seems to have finally sunk in with the writer community in a very mainstream way.

The higher the alcohol, the less enjoyable the wine seems to be with food. Those of us who want a wine to pair well with food have begun to steer away from these over-the-top fruit bombs. I’ve tasted a few that are in perfect balance and are flavorful, so I’m not completely ready to throw the baby out with the bath water; however, my preference for lower alcohol wine is much more dominant.

With higher alcohol wines, I also enjoy fewer ounces in a glass, in order to maintain a lower blood alcohol level… That’s another reason for me to steer away from them. I’m not ready to turn my five ounce glass into a four ounce one, just to maintain my blood alcohol level when socializing. It’s a tedious task. It means that I have to pay close attention to the heat on my palate, or examine each label, if I’m to maintain decorum… unless I just enjoy white wines when outside of my home.

Here’s a question… Why does this seem to be happening to mostly red wines, if one of the excuses for global warming is to be taken seriously?

Thanks Dan, for taking the initial stand… The parade seems to be ever-so-slowly following.

5 Responses to “High Alcohol Wines ~ Who was the first real whistle blower, anyway?”

  1. jo says:


  2. Katsuko Sparks says:

    Have you checked labels of white wines lately? It is happening to white wines too. 15%+ California Chard is not uncommon.

  3. Dave Pramuk says:

    “Winemaking has become a highly competitive global business. Winemakers aren’t simply trying to make higher alcohol wines

  4. jo says:

    “Too funny… And

  5. jo says:

    “This is an additional comment from Dan

  6. Mike says:

    As you certain that Dan Berger was first whistle blower on increasing alcohol levels in wine? Alcohol levels have been increasing for well over a decade (and probably more than two) – complaints over the last few years have been common. Do most consumers

  7. Mike says:

    Jo The Corti saga is now quite old news. Although not as old as the news that UK supermarket Marks & Spencer will source more wines at 12% rather than 14% alcohol. http://www.decanter.com/news/109271.html Did Dan Berger also tell you that Darrell Cort

  8. Andy Perdue says:

    “If Berger was writing about high-alc wines when that photo was taken

  9. “If pyrizine is the smell in my cat box

  10. jo says:

    Ah… the meow factor!