Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Entry archive:

Getting tipsy? Your wine bottle might be lying to you Add to ...

We’ve all seen (or been) that tipsy guest who has had one too many glasses of wine. But a new study suggests we shouldn’t be so quick to label anyone a lush: they may have been mislead by incorrect labelling, according to The Guardian.

A study of 129,000 wines from vineyards across North America and Europe over a 16-year period says that winemakers have been deliberately understating the alcohol content of their beverages on labels.

Apparently 57 per cent of wines analyzed were stronger than indicated on the label, according to the American Association of Wine Economists. The study also found that average alcohol content was 13.6 per cent when the average reported strength was 13.1 per cent.

The worst offenders? Chile, Argentina and the U.S.

Still, vintners in all the assessed countries were guilty of playing down their liquor levels – including world wine capitals France, Italy and Spain.

Winemakers are intentionally distorting the facts for economic gain, say the report’s authors.

“Some winemakers ... have admitted they deliberately chose to understate the alcohol content on a wine label, within the range of error permitted by the law, because they believed that it would be advantageous for marketing the wine to do so,” states the report, written by a team led by Julian Alston, a professor at the University of California, Davis.

Their goal is to maintain the quality of taste that comes with alcohol-abundant wine, but without the guilt associated with a high-digit label, Jancis Robinson, a leading British wine critic, told The Guardian.

On the other end of the spectrum, just under a third of the wines overstated their alcohol content.

Tell us: Will you be warier of wine labels?

Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail


Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular