Anyone feeling a little bit under the weather after a week of festive boozing may have consumed more than they realised - as bottles of wine have been found to contain more alcohol than manufacturers claim.
New research by scientists at the University of California has found the alcohol content of 60 per cent of the bottles was an average of 0.42 per cent higher than had been stated on the label.
The study of 100,000 bottles of wine from all over the world published in the Journal of Wine Economics found that Spanish and Chilean wines were most likely to have understated alcohol contents.
The discrepancy - although it appears minor - can have severe negative effects if the drinker is unaware - they could find themselves accidentally over the drink-driving limit or it could have serious unforeseen consequences to their health.
But manufacturers were reportedly aware of the discrepancy with several admitting to researchers that they altered the percentage of the bottle to make it meet customers’ expectations of how strong their wine should be, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Professor Julian Alston, of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis - who led the study - said: “A discrepancy of 0.4 percentage points might not seem large relative to an actual value of 13.6 per cent alcohol by volume, but even errors of this magnitude could lead consumers to underestimate the amount of alcohol they have consumed in ways that could have some consequences for their health and driving safety”.
The 12 wines of Christmas
The 12 wines of Christmas
1/12 A party prosecco
Pignoletto Brut Taste the Difference
Technically vino spumante, but prosecco by any other name – and partygoers are hardly likely to quibble once they taste the delightfully fresh bubbles and vibrant apple and stone-fruit flavours. It also makes a great Bellini – just add peach juice. £9, Sainsbury's
2/12 An English sparkling
Henners Brut 2010
This sparkler from East Sussex-based Henners is as light and ethereal as a spring day, with effervescent citrus flavours. Drink while opening presents on Christmas morning, with oysters or smoked salmon. £18 (normally £28), winetrust100.co.uk; £29.99, virgin wines.co.uk
3/12 A pink champagne
Taittinger Prestige Rosé Brut NV
This classic pink is a wonderful aperitif at any time, but makes a special festive meal even more so with its uplifting strawberry and raspberry flavours, toasty overlay and tight, bright bubbles. Savour on its own or with canapés. £37.50, thechampagne company.com; £48.99, Waitrose
4/12 Typically tropical
Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2014/15
Its crisp, palate-cleansing acidity makes New Zealand Sauv Blanc almost the perfect party or aperitif glass. This bottle from one of the best Kiwi producers is packed with grass and tropical-fruit flavours – great on its own, and very good with all shellfish. £8, Sainsbury's
5/12 Zippy and zesty
Falanghina Beneventano IGT 2013
This Italian white from near Naples has all the easy drinking qualities needed for a versatile seasonal white. It's zippy and zesty for easy drinking, but some underlying vegetal, smoky notes make it a very good partner for canapés and seafood starters. £7, Marks & Spencer
6/12 Cherry red
Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Franc 2014
Fresh and aromatic, this bottle delivers crunchy cherry-fruit flavours, with enough body to make it brilliant for party spreads and a fine accompaniment for those plates of turkey sandwiches. £5.99 (each, when bought as six bottles, normally £8.99), majestic.co.uk
7/12 For fish and white meats
Château Ollieux Romanis, Corbières Cuvée Prestige 2014
A baked fish needs an equally meaty white. Here, hand-picked Roussanne and Marsanne grapes are aged in oak to give big, creamy, luscious flavours, with hints of tropical fruits, some spice and smoke. £14.50, thewine society.com
8/12 For turkey, poultry and lighter game
Domain Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
Oak ageing gives a mellow complexity to this sumptuous Pinot, balancing the bright, lingering cherry and plum flavours. Underlying acidity will also counter the fatty richness of goose or duck. £17.95, slurp.co.uk; £18.40, tanners-wines.co.uk
9/12 For beef or venison
Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf- du-Pape 2012
This southern Rhône red balances rich, dark-fruit flavours, laced with earthy black pepper, in a wine of finesse which retains a hint of freshness from the Grenache grapes. A gorgeous counterpoint to equally full-flavoured meats. £19.99, laithwaites.co.uk
10/12 A tawny port
Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny Port
The perfect partner to mince pies, hard and blue cheeses, preferably consumed post-prandial in front of an open fire. Intense but mellow, oaky flavours of nuts and figs with a satisfying and long aftertaste. £32.96 (£21 for 37.5cl), amazon. co.uk; £34, the winesociety.com
11/12 A sweet wine
Noble Harvest Denbies
Although made from grapes infected with the "Noble Rot" Botrytis, this is not oversweet. A hint of citrus and a little tropical, underlying honeyed notes and some toasty, yeasty flavours make it just right for lighter desserts, fruit puddings and, say, an almond and apricot tart. £19.99, Waitrose
12/12 An aged sherry
Matusalem 30 Year Old Sherry
A sweet Oloroso, aged in oak for 30 years. Unbelievably complex with layer upon layer of flavours of nuts, raisins, dates and other dried fruit. Chill just a little and savour with Blue Stilton and, of course, Christmas pudding and cake. £19, Waitrose, ocado.com; £20.81, thedrinkshop.com
The news has prompted fears from alcohol abuse charities that companies were misleading their customers for profit and called on the government to tighten rules on alcohol sale.
Tom Smith from Alcohol Concern told the Telegraph: “We need the Government to ensure accurate health warnings on alcohol products are made mandatory, as is standard practice in other countries.
“The public should be able to make informed choices about their health and drinkers have a right to know what they’re consuming.”Reuse content