Decanter will state alcohol levels on all recommended wines listed in the magazine from the current (May) issue onwards.
The decision has been taken largely in response to requests from readers, editor Guy Woodward said.
‘Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a growing stream of readers asking us to list the alcohol levels of the wines that we recommend.’
The issue has been controversial and is by no means confined to Decanter or to a British readership.
The San Francisco Chronicle has taken the decision to add alcohol levels from this week.
‘Occasionally we’ve noted alcohol levels where germane,’ the paper’s wine editor Jon Bonné noted, ‘But we resisted printing them regularly because the act of bringing alcohol into the discussion of a wine is inherently political.’
Woodward felt the same, saying that to state the alcohol would risk painting a simplistic picture of the wine in question.
‘Many wines at 15% taste very balanced, and the alcohol is unobtrusive. And while we’re concerned about rising levels, unlike some retailers and sommeliers who’ve said they won’t consider wines over 15%, we’re not going to be blinkered about it.
‘However, we now feel that it’s become such a major issue for consumers that readers should be given the information and be able to make up their own minds how important it is.’
There are other issues that need to be taken into account, Woodward said – particularly around health.
‘It’s not just a question of the alcohol’s impact on the taste of the wine. There are also health issues at stake, drink-driving limits to consider, and the simple issue of intoxication.
‘If you want to enjoy more than one wine with dinner, for instance, the difference between a 12% wine and 15% can be quite significant.’
Written by Adam Lechmere