Comments on: Charts of the day, wine-heat edition A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: WinedayUk Sun, 19 Feb 2012 11:03:56 +0000 I agree with the above comment. The alcohol level in mass market wines in general is going up without any additional benefits. With the best of Bordeaux aiming at 12% traditionally with wines delivering complexity, character and finish at 12% why do we need 14-15% ? this is fortified wine level

By: maynardGkeynes Thu, 09 Feb 2012 13:56:36 +0000 In Bordeaux, it’s the Michel Rolland Effect, which is the transmission mechanism for the Parker Effect. Long hang time, ripe grapes are his recommendation to every client. Quite boring….

By: spiffy76 Thu, 09 Feb 2012 04:53:56 +0000 We’ve noticed the higher sugar levels and the related higher alcohol levels and we’ve cut back on our wine drinking. It’s hard to drink more than a few sips of anything from Napa Valley these days, and we used to lov Napa Valley wines. If we want something sweet and alcoholic, we’ll mix up some Test Pilots or Mai Tais.

Our impression is that Americans really do like sweet, high alcohol wines. They don’t like dry wines where you can taste the grapes, tannins, spice notes and the like. They want a fruit bomb, so the market has been delivering fruit bombs. A lot of the brix is when you harvest your grapes, not the varietal itself, so vintners harvest later.

Robert Parker is just in the middle of the storm. American tastes have moved to sweet, and I’ll bet a lot of new wine drinkers around the world appreciate sweet wines as well. They are much more accessible if you’ve never had wine before. Despite this, we do manage to find a number of old fashioned wines that are relatively dry, but it takes some doing. We are fighting to popular trend.

Manischewitz was just ahead of its time.

By: samadamsthedog Thu, 09 Feb 2012 04:18:01 +0000 i’m only a dog, but….

Can we please end the distracting and incorrect hyphenation of adverb-adjective combinations? A hyphen is properly used when several nouns or a combination of nouns and adjectives is used as an adjective; for example “adverb-adjective combinations”.

Incorrect uses from the article: “carefully-cultivated grapes” (Felix) and “more-intense wines” (article quoted). These both combine an adverb and an adjective and should not be hyphenated.

By: kenms Thu, 09 Feb 2012 02:56:34 +0000 Averages will go up if the top values go up, if the bottom values go up, or if all values go up. If you look at the graphs, the trend for wine has stabilized around 23 brix, and 22.5 for white wine. If you are trying to make a high-quality red, you will want to reach 24 brix typically. Whites might be harvested a bit lower, and grapes for sparkling lower yet. But 23 brix is probably where the ripeness should be. The increase in the trend line is partly, yes, a fashion for more concentrated flavor in wine that comes along with greater ripeness and greater alcohol, but the trend also reflects a lower tolerance for poor quality grapes delivered to the crush pad. Grapes were grown in the 80’s very often in “California Sprawl” fashion, with lots of irrigation. Vertical trellises and deficit irrigation are much more common today, with smaller, less vigorous canopies, more light and air on the grapes, resulting in grapes that have more concentrated flavor components, and yes, more sugar and therefore more alcohol. In other words, the average has gone up because the bar at the bottom has come up, for which we should be thankful. One other thing to note is that the brix generally goes up a bit a couple points in the tank and then the alcohol is usually about 1/2 the brix achieved in the tank. You are not going to make a 14+ alcohol wine from grapes that are 23 brix. Much of the talk of wine being too alcoholic really concerns wines that are substantially more than 14% alcohol and are in the “ultra-premium” wine category. The great sea of inexpensive wine out there comes nowhere close.

By: SteveHamlin Wed, 08 Feb 2012 21:53:38 +0000 Higher alcohol might be correlated with happier customers, but is it causative?

Felix writes: “when [wine drinkers] actually taste the stuff, in general the higher the alcohol the happier they are.”

But another alternative is in the quote Felix includes: “could be consistent with a “Parker effect” where higher sugar content is an unintended consequence of wineries responding to market demand and seeking riper flavored, more-intense wines through longer hang times…”

If wine drinkers prefer “riper flavored, more-intense wines”, and growers grow that fruit, and wine-makers make that wine, couldn’t high alcohol be a by-product in the search for fruit taste, rather than the goal? Perhaps customers enjoy the flavor, but observers conflate that preference with one for high alcohol content?

Correlation among alcohol and preference, not causation.

Try a blind taste test of a specific grape from a specific region: full-flavored, moderate-alcohol wines vs. full-flavored, high-alcohol wines.

By: Josephus3 Wed, 08 Feb 2012 20:29:21 +0000 Felix, nice post. Just out of curiosity, I wonder what the precipitation patterns look like over this period, as well. Not that I doubt the explanatory power of your argument, just interested in potential confounders.