Monday, January 16, 2017

Can You Tell If A Wine Will Taste Alcoholic Before You Drink It?

This question came to me after I tasted the last two wines reviewed, the Yalumba Octavius and the Penfolds Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon. The short answer is you can not. There are two reasons for this. The first has to do with the fruit in the wine, and the second with labelling.

Fruit intensity and vibrancy, in my experience, can compensate for high alcohol and even overcome it. I do not know what the chemical reaction is, but it seems to me both play a role in reigning alcohol in. Fruit intensity and vibrancy were high in the Penfolds Bin 169, and the alcohol at 14.5% was not noticeable. This is also true for white wine, look at Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay as example.

The other factor is labelling. You are allowed a band width of 1.5%ige points. The Octavius was labelled at 14%, the Penfolds Bin 169 at 14.5%. Let's just say they are both out by 1% point, but in the opposite direction. This would mean the Octavius could have been 15%, and the Penfolds 13.5%. This would tell a different story, wouldn't it? I have no basis for saying this is more accurate, but it certainly tasted this way, and it could have been.

The conclusion is, if you do not like an alcoholic after taste, but otherwise like full-bodied wines, you have to taste before you buy and develop an understanding of different producers' styles.

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