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eatrustic

B.C. Wines with higher alcohol

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It seems that more and more B.C. (Okanagan) wines are being released with 14% or more alcohol. I picked up a bottle of Jackson Triggs Meritage the other day, based on the high praise of the local VQA store salesperson. One taste and I kicked myself for not checking the alcohol content, it was somewhere around 14.5%. Not only does this come across taste wise but I believe there is a rule of thumb that says something like every 2% increase in the alcohol effectively doubles it. (Plse. correct me if I'm wrong) That also means more calories and less food friendly. Today I was looking at Roses in the same VQA shop and two of them had 14% as well.

My question is: what is the main reason for this in B.C.? I understand that warm to hot weather will increase the sugar content in the grapes and along with that the alcohol (this was the reason given by one of the wine store staff), but I also know that many California wineries play the game of increasing the alcohol content in order to score better ratings as the wine delivers more punch early on. Which one is it in our case? It seems that only in the last couple of years have we seen so many higher test wines here.

Personally, I think twice before buying a wine with a higher alcohol content these days unless it's an Amarone or a Zinfandel which have historically been vinified in that manner. If hot climate countries like Spain and Portugal can make excellent wines with 12.5 - 13.5% alcohol then I think we have to get past this gimmick in our wine making (if that's what it is).

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.... I believe there is a rule of thumb that says something like every 2% increase in the alcohol effectively doubles it. (Plse. correct me if I'm wrong) That also means more calories and less food friendly. Today I was looking at Roses in the same VQA shop and two of them had 14% as well.

Who on earth told you that?

If you're talking about a 3.5% small compared to a 5.5% NAIL then it comes close, but the increase from a 10% wine to a 12% wine is approximately 17% more alchohol. Substantial, but certainly not a doubling.

If I may, if you are concerned with alchohol intake w.r.t. food pairing, you might want to explore pairing food with beer. Not NAIL(s), but rather good beer.

Here's the ubiquitous link when that topic is brought up.

Sorry to change the topic.

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I agree, high alcohol wines have a limited appeal to me. (I like alcohol just fine, don't get me wrong - but burning hot wine is generally not the way I like to administer it.)

My take is that they are modeled after big sellers from the US (California), presumably in reaction to the market. Which is fine - there are still other, smaller BC producers that continue to make very good products at decent value that I can continue to support. And as you say, Spain always presents excellent options as well.

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Eatrustic: I assume you are referring to red wine.

I personally avoid BC wine for the simple reason that it is not very good and vastly overpriced. Why should something produced locally be more expensive that imported Portugese, Greek or Spanish wine? Maybe I've been spoilt drinking very good Italian and Spanish wine. My neighbour is an avid BC wine colllector (400+ bottles), but I have yet to sample one that I would purchase, let alone go out of my way to purchase. I can't help but thinking wine production in BC is more about lifestyle choices than end product.

But back to your subject, I think this is just an increaseing trend world-wide. I have a 98 Numanthia Toro which comes in at 14.5%. My 2000 Roda I comes in at 14% as does my Gia Estate. These are hugemongous reds that can take the additional alcohol.

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Most Washington wines are slightly higher in alcohol than European wines, which has been explained by winemakers as a consequence of the desert climate in Eastern Washington.

The alcohol/sugar content is a tricky balance. If the winemaker tweaks in favor of a lower alcohol content, the sugar content will go up.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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It is a combination of ripeness and climate along with wine making technique. Certain grape varieties are predominately higher in alcohol. A well made wine at 14% is not inferior to a 12/12.5% wine and if made WELL you should not notice the alcohol. Spanish reds from the south are higher in alcohol due to varietal characteristic's and climate; likewise in the Oliver area of BC and the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

Stephen Bonner


"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I agree, high alcohol wines have a limited appeal to me.  (I like alcohol just fine, don't get me wrong - but burning hot wine is generally not the way I like to administer it.)

My take is that they are modeled after big sellers from the US (California), presumably in reaction to the market.  Which is fine - there are still other, smaller BC producers that continue to make very good products at decent value that I can continue to support.  And as you say, Spain always presents excellent options as well.

Some truth to the above. Some excellent wines are coming out of the Okanagan but as their price points match those of Europe and Southern Hemisphere wines with a long pedigree and providence you do have to think twice. BC is still a young wine industry but if the success of New Zealand is anything to go by then the above comments will be mute.

Stephen Bonner


"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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