Anthony Rose: 'Wine alcohol levels have risen on average 2 per cent'

It would be easy to knock Tesco's new raft of lower alcohol wines, given that few wine lovers would be likely to enjoy these saccharine 0-5 per cent confections. You have to wonder whether "encouraging customers to be mindful of the amount of alcohol they consume" plays second fiddle to the commercial imperative that "lower alcohol wines have seen positive sales growth over the past year". According to the research company Wine Intelligence, lower alcohol sales will increase to 6-8 per cent of the wine market.

As I recall from readers' responses to a piece in which I once recommended some summer wines weighing in at a hefty 14 per cent, alcohol today is a burning issue. In two decades, wine alcohol levels have risen on average 2 per cent. That may not sound much but it can make the difference between drinkability and a wine that palls. Climate change is the usual scapegoat but a recent conference in Washington blamed wine critics for encouraging wineries to pick riper not just for higher ratings but to satisfy a taste for richer, full-bodied wines.

It seemed timely to focus on lower alcohol during The Wine Gang's talks at May's London International Wine Fair. Of the six wines I showed, the five white and one red illustrated that it's generally easier to find lighter styles in whites than reds. I kicked off with the 2011 Hilltop, Cserszegi Fuszeres from Hungary, £5.75, The Wine Society. Like a cross between an Alsace gewurztraminer and a muscat, its floral-spicy aromatics morph into a herby fruit quality etched with acidity.

It was followed by a 2010 Domaine de Maubet, Côtes de Gascogne, £6.85, Oxford Wine Company (01865 301144), a south-west French blend with an elderflower fragrance and gooseberry flavours. The most distinctive white was a 2010 Domaine de l'Idylle Vieilles Vignes, £9.50, Yapp Brothers (01747 860423), from France's Savoie region. With an appley, Alpine bite, its 11 per cent alcohol belies its punchy flavour.

Next up, Tyrrell's 10.8 per cent 2006 HDV Hunter Valley Semillon from museum stock showed the astonishing capacity of Hunter semillon to gain complexity without losing freshness. Finally to 2010 Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, £11.99, Sainsbury's, a featherweight off-dry Mosel riesling with a smoky fragrance. Most intriguing of all, at a bantamweight 12 per cent alcohol, Best's 2010 Great Western Young Vine Pinot Meunier, £20.95, slurp.co.uk, Bibendum, a sumptuous raspberries-and-cream red that could easily be mistaken for red Burgundy.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before