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How accurate is the alcohol content % on wine labels?

  • Husky Dec 18, 2007 03:04 PM
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I know they are *supposed* to be accurate, but have they ever been independently verified?

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  1. Look at this prior post and scroll down to zin's response which describes the intracacies of wine labels and ABV.


    1. Law requires +-1.5%

      1. As I said in the thread referenced by vinosnob:

        "Table Wine" is defined as wines containing 14.00 percent of alcohol by volume or less. Wines in this category must declare their alcohol content on the label in one of three ways: 1) By printing the phrase "Table Wine" on the label; 2) by printing a range of numbers (e.g.: "11-14% alcohol by volume") on the label; or 3) by printing a specific number on the bottle (e.g.: 12.5% alcohol by volume).

        Keep in mind that, for wines 14.00% alcohol by volume (often abbreviated as "alc. by vol.") and below, the specifc number on the bottle must only be accurate within +/-1.5%, with a "hard ceiling" of 14.00%. That is, a wine labeled "12.0% alc. by vol." can, in reality, actually contain between 10.5% and 13.5% alc. by vol. A wine labeled "12.5% alc. by vol." can, in reality, actually contain between 11.0% and 14.0% alc. by vol. BUT, if a wine is labeled "13.5% alc. by vol." can, it will contain between 12.0% and 14.0% alc. by vol. -- that's the "hard ceiling."

        Above 14.01% alc. by vol., there is a +/-1.0% tolerance, with a "hard floor." A wine labeled "14.2% alc. by vol." may be anywhere from 14.0% to 15.2% alc. by vol.; a wine labeled "15.6% alc. by vol." may actually contain anything between 14.6% and 16.6% alcohol, etc., with a cap at the next level where the tax rate changes.

        So . . . it's good to remember that what you read isn't always what you get.


        P.S. EVERY "number" on a wine label has a percentage tolerance. . . .