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08.11.2005

Lowering The Octane

OCTANE.sm.jpgCertain readers *you know who you are* like to harp on the alcohol level issue a lot. And to be honest, it is a rising concern, no pun intended. Average alcohol content for some wines has risen as much as 4% in the last 20 years (resulting in wines that are on average 15-20% more alcoholic than they used to be), and more and more people are starting to talk about it.

Some people say that it's not an issue, really, and that it just reflects changing tastes.

Some people say well, the tastes are actually for fruitier wines rather than stronger ones, so finding some way to reduce the alcohol will help us all be able to drink more wine without getting smashed so quickly.

Some people say you can get fruit forward wines without high alcohol.

Some people say fruit forward wines suck, and less fruity, higher acid wines are better for drinking with food, which is what we should be doing with wine anyway.

Well regardless of where you sit on the issue (I think I straddle several of those points of view) some people are trying to figure out interesting and new ways to use technology to lower the alcohol in wines, so that whenever someone finally decides that they do want that 16.7% Zinfandel to have the same flavor but clock in at around 13%, science will be ready.

Jancis Robinson talks about some of the newer techniques for lowering the octane.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.