I have to weigh in on this one — it’s not even mid-January and I have already seen three articles about people complaining about high alcohol wines. But my opinion – quit your whining!
The fact is that the alcohol level in table wines is directly related to how ripe the grapes are. The riper the fruit, the more sugar there is, the more alcohol can be produced.
And doesn’t that make sense? Don’t we want the ripest fruit possible to avoid those “green” flavours?
Apparently, not for some people. One argument is that these wines don’t go well with food. Well, that may be true for some delicately flavoured foods. But just don’t serve these wines with them! Serve a white wine or a light red like Gamay or Dolcetto. But the whole “food wine” thing — as I have harped on before — is a big game. If a wine doesn’t taste good by itself, it isn’t a good wine — period. It shouldn’t take food to “hide it”.
Another argument is that these high alcohol wines taste “hot”, meaning you can taste the alcohol and that hurts the overall flavour. Now that may be the case with some lower quality wines, but the higher alcohol ones I drink — from Shiraz to Zinfandel, Cabernet and even Chateauneuf du Pape — are gorgeous and very balanced, making it hard to find the alcohol (at least for me).
The final — and, in my opinion, most ridiculous argument — is that high alcohol wines mean you can’t drink as much without getting drunk. Well, duh!!! So what’s the problem with that? You are not supposed to have more than two glasses of wine a day (for a man) anyway. A 14% vs 12.5% wine shouldn’t change that. And even if you are more sensitive to alcohol — just have one glass! You shouldn’t be drinking it for the buzz anyway.
Bottom line for me is that wine is made of fruit, you should be able to taste the fruit, and that fruit should be as ripe as possible. If that means higher alcohol levels, I can handle it.
It’s certainly far better than herbaceous, woody, “green” red wines that are supposed to have character but really are just made from unripe fruit.