Ideal amount of alcohol?

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Re: Ideal amount of alcohol?

Postby Mark Willstatter » Sat Jan 13, 2007 4:41 pm

Thomas wrote:In the USA, up to 14% a wine has 1 to 1.5% leeway, plus or minus. So, the answer to your question is: you never really get to know the alcohol level.


I'd just like to point out that the rules in the US are complicated and it all has to do with taxes. The tolerance for wines under 14% is +/- 1.5%, the tolerance for wines 14% and over is +/- 1%, which I always thought was odd (why a bigger tolerance for lower alcohol?). 14% represents the breakpoint between tax categories. The extra complexity is that despite those general tolerances, the label *must* agree with the tax category. In other words, if the label shows a number less than 14%, the actual alcohol must be less than 14%. So if, for example, the label says "13.9%", the actual alcohol could be anywhere from 12.4% to 13.999% - but not 14.0% or greater. If the label says 14.1%, the actual alcohol could be anywhere from 14.0% to 15.1%. These rules are the reason why in the old days so many wines were labeled at 12.5%. Especially for the nonvintage wines that used to be prevalent in California, a winery could use the same label for wine anywhere from 11% to 14% alcohol, year-in and year-out, more or less forever.
Mark Willstatter
Ultra geek
 
Posts: 433
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:20 pm
Location: Puget Sound

Hot Legs?

Postby Rod Miller » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:29 pm

Great info as usual Mark.

I will ask the question again. If you use the same glass with different wines can you tell the alc. % with any accuracy by looking at the legs?

If you taste alc. in wine what does it taste like?
May all beings find happiness and the causes of happiness!!!!
Rod Miller
Ultra geek
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:52 pm
Location: El Dorado, CA

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Thomas » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:44 pm

Rod Miller wrote:Great info as usual Mark.

I will ask the question again. If you use the same glass with different wines can you tell the alc. % with any accuracy by looking at the legs?

If you taste alc. in wine what does it taste like?


1. not really

2. hot
Thomas
Senior Flamethrower
 
Posts: 3574
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Ideal amount of alcohol?

Postby AaronW » Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:57 am

Maria Samms wrote:Last night I was going through my WTNs and I noticed that all the red wines that I really liked have had an alcohol level of 13.5%. Do you think this is just a coincidence?


It's funny you mention this because, I've been away from the forum for the week and was just about to post a TN for what I think is tremendously good wine and the alc. level is 13.5%!! Weird coincidence, huh?
"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile;
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile."

- Homer 900 B.C.
User avatar
AaronW
Ultra geek
 
Posts: 191
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:45 pm
Location: Just south of SLC

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Rod Miller » Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:36 am

Sorry but hot does not do it for me. If I have it right it is a non tannin soft bitter taste that you taste in the back of the mouth. There must be a way of learning to taste alc. via some neutral brandy.
May all beings find happiness and the causes of happiness!!!!
Rod Miller
Ultra geek
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:52 pm
Location: El Dorado, CA

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Thomas » Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:47 pm

Rod Miller wrote:Sorry but hot does not do it for me. If I have it right it is a non tannin soft bitter taste that you taste in the back of the mouth. There must be a way of learning to taste alc. via some neutral brandy.


Well, I don't taste alcohol as anywhere near bitter. In fact. if you could remove the heat, alcohol likely has a sweet taste--it is, after all, fermented sugar.

Tannin is bitter at the back of the mouth.

Heat is the best descriptor I can think of for alcohol. In fact, I get a whiff of the heat when I smell it. But to be closer to precise, hot is the sensation of alcohol, taste, if you could taste it, would be sweet. Sometimes high alcohol wines seem sweet because of the alcohol, but the heat will be there too.

Think whiskey--heat, wood and a touch of sweet wrapped in the heat and wood.
Thomas
Senior Flamethrower
 
Posts: 3574
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Brian K Miller » Sun Jan 14, 2007 11:52 pm

I agree with Thomas. I tried a Sauvignon Blanc this summer and it was very...very...HOT. Well over 15% abv.
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
Brian K Miller
Passionate Arboisphile
 
Posts: 6918
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:05 am
Location: Northern California

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Victorwine » Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:45 am

I too agree with Thomas P. At a recent wine conference I attended back in November, I participated in a seminar called “Wine Composition and Chemistry”. (I’m pretty sure Thomas is a better authority then I am in describing this workshop). The speaker was a very knowledgeable member of the Society of Wine Educators. At this seminar we sampled the various structural components of a wine (RS (sugar water solution), Acid (tartaric acid/water solution), Tannin (grape tannin/water solution) and Alcohol.) independent of one another. We were told to sample each component and think about what we were experiencing and what sensations we were feeling and where in the mouth and on the tongue were we feeling these sensations. As a group we might have felt the sensation in a slightly different area of the mouth or tongue but basically the descriptive words which were used to describe the sensation was basically the same. Then we discussed how these structural components are put together from a perspective of balance with focus on quality. To echo what others have previously stated, basically in a well made wine no one structural component should overpower the other.
As far as estimating a wines alcohol content by observing the so called ‘legs”, “tears” or ‘windows”, I don’t think it is possibly. But I would add this; by observing this phenomenon one can gain some clues about a wine’s “weight” (whether the wine is light, medium, or full-bodied).

Salute
User avatar
Victorwine
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1652
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 10:51 pm

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:32 am

I think tasting wine with an eye towards its structure is a good idea. By structure I mean alcohol, fruit, tannin and acidity (and sweetness, if any); and of course the balance between the different components.

When I give component tastings I use over-brewed tea for tannin, lemon juice or tart apple for acidity, a winelike solution of vodka and water for alcohol, and grapejuice for sweetness and fruitiness.
Last edited by Oliver McCrum on Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Oliver
Oliver McCrum Wines
Oliver McCrum
Wine guru
 
Posts: 996
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:08 am
Location: Oakland, CA; Cigliè, Piedmont

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:35 am

Victorwine wrote:As far as estimating a wines alcohol content by observing the so called ‘legs”, “tears” or ‘windows”, I don’t think it is possibly. But I would add this; by observing this phenomenon one can gain some clues about a wine’s “weight” (whether the wine is light, medium, or full-bodied).

Salute


My understanding is that the most important component of the 'legs' is alcohol, at least in dry wines. The impression of thickness is caused by different rates of evaporation at the edge of the sheet of liquid.
Oliver
Oliver McCrum Wines
Oliver McCrum
Wine guru
 
Posts: 996
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:08 am
Location: Oakland, CA; Cigliè, Piedmont

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:36 am

Thomas wrote:Tannin is bitter at the back of the mouth.



I find tannins in different parts of the mouth, not just at the back. Different wines do seem to cause reactions in different parts of the mouth, though.
Oliver
Oliver McCrum Wines
Oliver McCrum
Wine guru
 
Posts: 996
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:08 am
Location: Oakland, CA; Cigliè, Piedmont

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Rod Miller » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:31 am

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I think I can taste alc. Maybe I would describe the sensation as more burning. Many herbal mixtures are dissolved in alc. The alc. is probably a wine spirit...It taste like it to me.

Now that I am learning to tune into the alc. taste, I can see why folks don't like ripe wines. They have a kind of sameness. The ripeness causes a loss of varietial character as well as the acid structure. Nevertheless I like drinking ripe wine over highly acid wines. I agree with the description of a good wine being in balance where the tastes cannot be separated.

Nevertheless, this don't mean that a low acid wine is inherently bad. I personally like to taste more fruit, less oak, acid, and sweetness. I am not as concerned about tasting alc.
May all beings find happiness and the causes of happiness!!!!
Rod Miller
Ultra geek
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:52 pm
Location: El Dorado, CA

Re: Hot Legs?

Postby Thomas » Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:20 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:
Thomas wrote:Tannin is bitter at the back of the mouth.



I find tannins in different parts of the mouth, not just at the back. Different wines do seem to cause reactions in different parts of the mouth, though.


I didn't say anything to the contrary Oliver. I only pointed out that the bitter at the back that Rod mentioned is likely not alcohol but tannin.

Tannin makes an impact all over the mouth and tongue--but it is bitter at the back.
Thomas
Senior Flamethrower
 
Posts: 3574
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Ideal amount of alcohol?

Postby Peter May » Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:25 pm

keith prothero wrote:I have asked this question on another Board and have yet to obtain an answer.
How do you know please,what the abv of a particular wine is? You cannot rely on the label,as often it is inaccurate.


Well, in the EU it is almost certain the label is inaccurate, since showing the precise abv is not legal, only the nearest whole or half percentage figure is allowed to be shown. Why, I don't know.
User avatar
Peter May
Pinotage Advocate
 
Posts: 2118
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:24 pm
Location: Snorbens, England

Previous

Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 15 guests