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Australian red wines are getting more alcoholic but alcohol statements do not accurately reflect the situation or wine style

November 3, 2018 Beverage No Comments Email Email

Geddes A Drink Publications has announced the release of the 36th edition of Australian Wine Vintages 2019, also widely recognized as The Gold Book due to its signature gold hard-backed cover, and with it is revealed important developments for alcohol levels in Australian wine.

Australian Wines Vintages – The Gold Book is a strictly independent review. It is the result of the author, Rob Geddes MW, and his team of judges that span a diverse cross section of the wine industry including winemakers, wine buyers, consultants and sommeliers. Five thousand wines are tasted over a period of 12 months and the final result is one of dedication and commitment for all involved but is also an enormous opportunity for insight into Australian wine and the industry.

The sheer scale of the judging process means that Geddes and the judges have the ability to discover and analyse factors that are impacting Australian wine overall. This year saw judges note that our wines are richer and riper as vintages are warming due to changing climate conditions. This impacts the alcohol content of wine. It has become evident to the judges of The Gold Book that the flavour and body of the wine often does not align with the alcohol statement and is therefore misleading to the interested consumer.

“People in the business of educating consumers would agree that 11% is light, 13% is medium and 15% full bodied. Under Australia’s label laws the ability to disclose alcohol with a 1.5% variation means that it’s very hard to use the labels to judge wine style,” says Rob Geddes MW.

“My argument is the wine industry has an international leadership role yet it’s got this muddled agreement about alcohol and the ability to misinterpret it. It has been more than 35 years since alcohol disclosure became mandatory on labels and the science of alcohol measurement has improved since then.

We have a leadership moment upon us where we can continue to improve our relationship with the consumer by being more transparent about what’s in the bottle. The more accurate labelling of alcohol to a 0.5% variation which is already used for exported wine would remove an anomaly that could really help consumers understand the wine industry better and what they are drinking.”

Geddes believes the wine industry needs to be as open as possible regarding the alcohol statement, not just in terms of managing intake, but also in terms of the health message and calorie intake. The level of alcohol in wine can vary as much as 10 per cent from 6 per cent in a Moscato d’Asti up to up to 17 per cent in local Shiraz.

“I don’t believe the Australian consumer is being informed to the level they deserve about the great variations between alcohol levels in wine and they should be. Many producers have stepped up now the industry as a whole needs to step up for the benefit of its customers,” explains Geddes MW.

The hip pocket-sized Australian Wine Vintages 2018 – The Gold Book is on sale nationally at selected book and wine retailers or digitally via Amazon and Kindle or online via RRP $34.95.

For the digitally savvy consumer, the guide can also be accessed through the Australian Wine Vintages Appavailable at the App Store for $9.99. Purchasers of the book gain access to the App and its content free of charge.

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