I’m what you might call a “cheap date”, at least as far as alcohol goes (i.e. a little alcohol goes a LONG way with me).
Alcohol in wines is a hugely debated issue; but how much is too much? You’ll find that some Californian Zin’s can approach 16-17%+ alcohol, whilst dry German Riesling’s can be under 9%. In wine, balance is key. Aussie Shirazes and California Zin’s / Cab’s can hold a higher alcohol quite easily, but with lighter and more delicate wines, the ABV really makes a difference. There 2 sides to every argument of course, but here my top 5 reasons to skew your wine choices toward lower alcohol wines:
Reason 1: Balance is better than bigness.
Balance in wine is arguably much harder to achieve than high content.
A high alcohol wine can sometimes completely overpower the food you are pairing with. Try pairing a spicy food with a higher alcohol content (13%+) wine, compared with one with a lower content (below 11%). You’ll find that the higher alcohol wine is like pouring gasoline on a fire! I have absolutely nothing against high alcohol Zin’s, in fact I love them, however some wines are better consumed by themselves…
Reason 3: You can drink two glasses instead of one.
This speaks for itself, but if I’m personally going out to a restaurant, I like to sample a few different wines. This is made all the more difficult if you are already “tipsy” by the time you get to your second glass!
It’s also interesting to note that, say you and a friend were going to drink a bottle of wine with 12.5%. You could actually drink another gin and tonic before reaching the same blood alcohol level, as you would had you consumed a bottle of 14.5% alcohol wine.
It’s no secret that a lot of what is seen on retailers shelves is due in some part to choices made by wine critics. It can therefore be said that they carry some of the blame for the trend toward high-alcohol-content wines!
When critics and the wine press conduct their blind tastings, they might have 20 or more glasses in front of them (tough job). The wines that obviously stand out from the group earn higher ratings, and one way to do this is with a high alcohol content. Winemakers know this (higher scores mean more money for the winery), and in turn have started bumping up the octane level on their wines.
Reason 5: Enjoy your meal and not fall asleep at the movie afterwards!
Valentine’s Day is coming, and there is nothing worse than falling asleep before “the main event”.