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Learn The Truth About The Percentage Of Alcohol In Wine

percentage of alcohol in wine

A glass of wine might seem more civilized than a no-name can of beer, but when it comes to acting uncivilized from boozing too much, wine will likely get you there quicker. In terms of alcohol content, the rule of thumb is that 12 ounces of beer is about equivalent to 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of liquor (the amount in a shot glass).

The standard measurement of alcohol content is alcohol by volume (ABV), which is given as the volume of ethanol as a percent of the total volume of the drink. On average, the ABV for beer is 4.5%; for wine, 11.6%; and for liquor, 37%.

Wine is a fermented beverage, which has an alcohol content ranging between 3.5% to 15%. So how does fermenting the wine using grapes effect this?

Wine grapes

As the raw material of wine is grapes, it is almost impossible to achieve more than 15% of alcohol volume through fermentation, as the sugar stops being transformed into alcohol.

The alcohol content in wine depends on how you produce its fermentation. The maximum degree of alcohol that the wines usually have is 15%, with the exception of the Sherry and Oporto wines, which, like a liqueur, have a higher amount.

In the world of wine, we speak of “strengthening” when we add alcohol that does not come from the fermentation of the wine.

Wine is made up of several components other than ethanol (alcohol):

  • Glycerol: it gives softness and light sweetness to wine. This component is the first that comes from the fermentation of wine. Winemakers are aware that the higher the temperature during fermentation, the more glycerol that will be obtained
  • Methanol, butanediol, sorbitol, and mannitol are in very small concentration

The maturation of the grape keeps a close relationship with the levels of alcohol that a wine can have.

From the beginning until the time of harvest, the grapes increase in sugar level – in addition to increasing weight, color, potassium levels, and losing its acidity and the resistance of the skin.

Therefore, if the winemaker wants to control the alcohol levels of the wine, he must be aware of the time of harvest, analysing the accumulated sugar on a weekly basis.

The degree of alcohol in the grapes, which is the same degree that the wine will have, depends on the accumulation of sugars. Every 17.5 grams of sugar contained in a liter will give 1% by volume of alcohol (1 degree).

How to measure the AVB of your wine

Currently, the simplest way to measure the volume of alcohol is using a refractometer. Using a drop of fluid from the grape, it tells us how rich it is in sugar. The difficulty is that this drop is an average drop, representative. To achieve this five vines are marked in the vineyard and each week ten berries are taken from the shoulders of their bunches. The refract metric grade is collected, crushed and read.

The wines “usually” are between alcohol values of 10 to 14° (ten to fourteen degrees). The red wines are usually between 12 and 13° and the white and pink between 10 and 12°. The issue is not simple for whites and rosés. Years ago they liked these wines with 13° and aged in oak. Today this type of wine is a minority, for limited consumers, while the market demands lesser whites and rosés. However, a tendency to return to white wines with wood aging has been detected.

The alcoholic strength of a wine is the expression in degrees of the number of volumes of alcohol (ethanol) contained in 100 volumes of the product, measured at a temperature of 20ºC. It is a measure of percentage concentration in volume.

To each unit of alcohol percentage in the total volume corresponds to a degree of alcoholic strength. Thus, there is the talk of a wine with a graduation of 13.5° when it has 13.5% alcohol, that is, 135 ml of ethanol per liter.

The alcohol levels in wine are grouped into three:

  • Low (less than 12.5%)
  • Moderately (12.5% to 14%)
  • High (above 14%)

Low Alcohol Wine

Alcohol is not a secondary element in wine. And subtracting alcohol — sometimes — it also risks taking away some of the soul from the wine. Working with a little sense, however, you can find a good compromise. For a group of consumers who aim to drink 2-3 glasses of wine during the meal, lowering the alcohol content to 12% vol is the desired choice.

But what do we know exactly about these “Low Alcohol Wine” wines?

Wine with low alcohol content is the fashion these days. In Italy and France consumers continue to show a bit of perplexity regarding this particular offer. The question that often arises is: but will they really be natural wines?  In the countries most traditionally linked to wine consumption, we prefer to drink a glass less rather than renounce alcohol.

Germany, on the other hand, is the country where the most wine with low alcohol content is drunk (34%). While Canada and the USA are increasingly heading towards that choice every year.

The wines with low alcohol content are chosen above all for health, diet and driving factors. Among those who still decide to approach the wines with low alcohol content, the motivations are mainly these three. Although, some experts argue that the choice reflects a profound change in eating habits: we eat less and fewer meats and more fish or vegetarian dishes. These are more delicate flavors that require less intense and finer wines.

Examples:

Pretty Gorgeous ABV = 12%

Pretty Gorgeous

Ponte Pietra ABV = 12%

Ponte Pietra

Kourtaki ABV = 11.5%

Kourtaki

 

Medium Alcohol Wine

When it comes to medium alcohol wine, they contain 12.5% to 14% of alcohol. This group is the ideal type of wine, with natural alcohol content from fermentation. Some people even claim that their doctor advises them to drink a glass of medium-alcohol wine once a day!

Examples:

Baglio Gibellina ABV = 13.5%

Baglio Gibellina

San Marzano ABV = 13%

San Marzano

Mabis ABV = 13.5%

Mabis

Peter Lehmann ABV = 14%

Peter Lehmann

High Alcohol Wine

The high-grade alcohol has long been in the wine market. It contains more than 14% of alcohol by volume.

Examples:

KEO Commandaria St John Muscat ABV = 15%

KEO

Our Favourites

Low Alcohol Wine Medium Alcohol Wine High Alcohol Wine
Santa Cristina – 10.5%

Santa Cristina

Luc Belaire – 12.5%

Buckfast – 15%

Buckfast

The 2017 Casasole has a straw yellow coloration. It is characterized by the typical aromas of the native Procanico and Grechetto grape varieties and their notes of white fruit, Golden Delicious apples, bananas, and their hints of orange zest. The palate is very sweet in addition to an excellent freshness which further facilitates the drinking pleasure. Monster success in the nightclubs of New York, this sparkling well round highlights the sun of Provence, swept by the fresh wind of the Mistral, promoting the development of the best roses.

The Luc Belaire Rare, is a sparkling rose, Appellation Côtes de Provence, 90% Syrah, 5% Grenache and 5% Cinsault, 12.5° alcohol.

Buckfast is the maker of this Tonic Wine 75cl, a vermouth produced in England that has a volume of alcohol of 15º. 4.4 out of 5 points is the average rating of Buckfast Tonic Wine.

 

10.5 ABV 12.5 ABV 15 ABV

Benefits of drinking wine

Believe it or not, wine has some really valuable benefits for your physical and mental health. Some experts say that a glass of this drink a day can help you lose weight and stay fit.

When you hear this, people are mainly referring to glass at lunch or with dinner due to wine’s ability to help you digest food. But the benefits of wine for adults are not limited to metabolism.

However, it is scientifically proven that excessive consumption of alcohol promotes a build-up of fat on the stomach and hips, thus contributing to the development of abdominal obesity. But this only happens after years of abuse.

For a long time, it was thought that drinking a glass of wine daily could encourage weight gain. This was believed due to to the fact that wine contains sugar.

But several studies, including some conducted at Harvard Medical School, have instead found that drinking a glass of wine a day has a positive effect on weight since ethanol slightly increases the heart rate, therefore stimulating metabolism. Of course, you should never go beyond that thin line between the recommended dose or the excessive dose.

In short, if inserted in the context of a healthy life, based on balanced meals and daily physical activity, a glass of wine a day could help you lose weight! *Cheers*

Wine, like love, is good for the heart.

To understand this, we need to start with resveratrol, which is a natural substance produced by the grape vine with the aim of protecting the plant from environmental attacks, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, UV rays and water stress.

The highest concentration of this substance is found in grape skins, particularly in red grapes. As a result, the highest concentration of resveratrol is found in red wine.

Scientific research has investigated the effects of resveratrol on the human body, showing how this plant molecule can help prevent blood vessel damage, pressure surges and increased cholesterol levels.

Its beneficial action would also affect the health of the skin since it would be able to stimulate the production of collagen and fight against the signs of aging.

As always, this happens if (and only if) the consumption of wine is moderate and controlled. Drinking wine immoderately, even three glasses a day risks seriously ruining your health. And if in doubt, it is always best to consult your doctor.

How much wine is safe to drink?

The abuse of alcohol is a serious medical and social problem. A widespread opinion is that moderate consumption, “especially of red wine”, can be both satisfying and beneficial to your health. The so-called “French paradox” means that cardiovascular diseases are relatively uncommon in France, despite a cuisine rich in saturated fats (butter and various creams). This phenomenon is also attributed to the protective production of red wine.

We often hear about glasses of wine, glasses of hard liquor, or “alcoholic units.” However measuring your intake as a ‘glass of wine’ is tricky because this unit is not absolutely defined. A glass of wine on average can vary from 100 ml (the amount served in most wine shops and bars) to 150 ml which could be the quantity considered “normal” when we serve a glass of wine at home. A difference a bit too big to rely on. The same applies to the shots of hard liquor in bars and wine shops, as the quantities vary a lot.

Often it differs between man and woman because woman generally weigh less (so they have a lower volume of blood). But above all they have fewer enzymes to metabolize the ethanol, so the alcohol stays in circulation for longer and consequently can do more damage.

Alcohol is a carcinogenic substance (could cause cancer) even in small doses, so we cannot speak of a recommendable dose, but a tolerable dose, concluding that less is better.

The WHO talks about two ‘standard drinks’ of 10g per day as a tolerable dose, both for men and for women (therefore 20 g in total).

The proposed alcohol unit is 12g and should not exceed:

  • 1-2 alcoholic units for women
  • 2-3 alcohol units for men
  • 1 alcoholic unit for the elderly
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