114: Rising Alcohol in Wine: Too Hot to Handle?

Want to seduce someone this Valentine’s Day? Forget the lingerie, lipstick and silk-tie handcuffs—just ensure that the object of your desire drinks a little wine. Over a few glasses of wine, love is blind, or at least it’s wearing rosé-coloured glasses. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the greatest social lubricants—wine has certainly done more to keep marriages together than beer. Wine embodies physical pleasure: With pheromones, its aromas are a heady mix and its velvet caress on the tongue both soothes and excites. What other drink is described as “voluptuous” and “curvaceous”?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with you about not only wine for Valentine’s Day, but we’re also going to turn up the heat and talk about the rising levels of alcohol in wine.

You can find the wines we discussed at www.nataliemaclean.com/winepicks.

Highlights What rule of thumb should you keep in mind when pairing wine with chocolate? Which wines can you choose when pairing with sweet desserts? Why does the alcohol in wine hit you harder now than in the past? What is fuelling the trend of wines having higher alcohol content? How does alcohol support wine and the tasting experience you enjoy? What can you determine from the tears coating your glass? Why does the alcohol in wine give you the impression of sweetness and texture? Does high alcohol really prove beneficial for New World wines? What traditional processes contribute to the high alcohol levels you might be accustomed to in wines like Amarone? Why do usually find lower alcohol wines coming from cool-climate regions? Where would you find most of the world’s most alcoholic wines being produced? Which white wine myth should you dispel? Why should you care about the steadily increasing alcohol content in wine? How do winemakers test grapes for maturity? How does climate change influence ripeness? How do modern winemaking techniques boost alcohol levels? What influence did Robert Parker have on the tasting profile of the wines you’ve tasted? Why might big wines be spoiling your dinner parties? How can you enjoy different wines for different purposes? Why shouldn’t you rely on alcohol levels reported on wine labels? What can you expect from the future of high-alcohol wines?

To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the