A is for Alcohol..

In wine, alcohol is produced by yeasts fermenting sugar in the ripe grapes. Alcohol itself is tasteless, but it does affect the way wine tastes.

For a wine to be perfectly balanced, the alcohol level should not be noticeable. If the level is too high, the wine may taste ‘hot’; too low and it may seem insipid. Wines described as full bodied (eg Rioja, Pinotage, Zinfandel), tend to havr higher alcohol to balance rich fruits and firm structures while wines described as light (eg Moscato d’Asti, German Riesling), tend to be low in alcohol.

For a quality wine to be sweet, this relies upon some of the natural sugars to remain ‘unconverted’ during fermentation. For a wine to be bone dry, there will only be trace levels of sugar remaining in the wine.

Over the last two decades, the alcohol levels in wines from around the world (Bordeaux and Burgundy as well as Australia and Argentina) have risen. This is due to a variety of factors, among which are lower yields, riper grapes, more efficient yeasts and fermentation in closed tanks. There is now a move by producers around the world to bring alcohol levels down without sacrificing flavour and tannin ripeness.

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