Today’s Monday musing is about low alcohol wines. The above photo is of a hydrometer. As a home winemaker, I use a hydrometer to measure the alcohol in my must and to check if fermentation has stopped. These seem to be all the rage but I was thinking what constitutes low alcohol and is there a standard definition or level. Apparently the official definition is that for whites it’s below 12.5% ABV and for reds below 13%. I think that’s absurd. When I first moved to Italy, whites were 12% ABV and reds around 12.5%-13.5%. Only Amarone and Primitivo clocked in at 14%. The idea that below 12.5% is low alcohol is a sign of how far we’ve come from what was traditional. Honestly, low alcohol to me is 5%-6% of a Moscato or even 10%-11% is pushing it in my view. All of that said, I am happy if we go back to a 12% standard Wines with higher alcohol always demand more complex food pairings and tend to produce more headaches for those that suffer from that problem.
I am curious though if anyone else thinks these definitions are pushing it. I would love to hear other points of view.
I believe that WSET considers wines under 11% to be “low”, between 11-14% “medium”, and above 14% “high”. Not that this is the “right” way . . . but it’s A way that many wine students are learning to classify wines. 🙂
And IMO, with climate change increasing ripeness and alcohol levels – 14% actually seems a bit low to be considered “high” alcohol.
That may be the case but it’s not the tradition in any of these reasons nor is it good for any of us. No reason for a still wine to be more than 14% in my opinion. For pairing, it is always out of sorts with that level of alcohol. I did Diploma back in 2008 and I have no recollection of that nor of the conversation. It was 12 years ago and the climate has gotten so much worse.