Why is wine alcohol content different for different wines?
Wine alcohol content is all about sugar content and climate…. but hold on a sec, let’s back up.
Alcohol and carbon-dioxide are created when yeast eats sugar. So when wine is being produced, the natural sugars in the grapes are consumed by yeast to make the wine alcoholic. Different wines will have different alcohol contents depending on how ripe or sugary the grapes happened to be during the fermenting process, as well as the winemaking decisions.
What is alcohol by volume?
On average, beers tend to have between 3-4% alcohol , liquors have around 40%, and wines tend to fall between 5-20%. The average is between about 12 and 14% (although wine makers are starting to produce higher alcohol content wines, so this average is rising). Wines above 20% are fortified wines, meaning liquor (specifically brandy) has been added to the wine in order to stop it from fermenting further.
Higher alcohol wines are typically richer with a bigger and fuller-bodied flavor. They can also be quite spicy. Yum!
Here is a little chart that shows a few wines with different alcohol contents:
|Moscato d’Asti, Sweeter Riesling||Red Burgundy, Pinot Grigio||Sherry, Port, Madeira|
It’s all about balance
If a wine is in balance, it should taste great no matter the alcohol content. Wines with high alcohol can go down smoothly without seeming to be super boozy. On the other end of the spectrum, a medium alcohol wine can sometimes taste very alcoholic if it isn’t in balance.
And that brings us back to… CLIMATE, which is SO IMPORTANT.
Climate affects how a grape ripens, so when you think about it, wines made in hotter climates are going to naturally ripen at a different rate than those made it cooler climates. This all affects alcohol content!
What’s your favorite boozy wine? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.