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07.13.2005

Jancis Robinson on High Alcohol Wines

Based on responses to several posts in the past, I can see that alcohol levels in wine are a hot topic for Vinography readers. So when I saw this excellent piece by Jancis Robinson on the subject, I had to let you know.

She goes through the background of the debate, and the causes of high alcohol in wines, and some of the conflicts between growers and winemakers surrounding hangtime (which is all good reading for those who are unfamiliar with the issue) but then she brings up an astonishing fact that I was unaware of, which adds a whole new dimension to the debate.

It turns out that American wines over 15% in alcohol are effectively forbidden from being exported to America's largest overseas market: the EU. Apparently that 15% threshold requires a bi-lateral wine agreement to exist between the EU and the country of export. If it doesn't exist then the EU won't let the wine in, and like so many of our international trade agreements these days, this one just hasn't made the priority lists for American diplomacy.

Of course, the Australians, the Chileans, and the South Africans have all done their due diligence and struck agreements.

Of course, many wine drinkers would say that's the least of our worries, when the wine is to high in alcohol to drink.

Check out the article. It's a good one.

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