Gastronomy / Wine. Why do wines have a higher alcohol content than before?

Wine, once less dangerous than water

“Wine is the healthiest and most hygienic beverage there is,” said Louis Pasteur. It was even used as an antiseptic. At a time when undrinkable water was the rule, the risks of contamination and dysentery encouraged people to drink wine, but at a very low titration, around 4 to 6°. Most often it was cut. We ate it everywhere. A map of French vineyards in the 17th century shows that the largest areas planted with vines are described in the Paris region. The increase in alcohol content began in the most prestigious vineyards. It happened under the effect of two factors.

Global warming

For half a century, the average temperature has increased by 2°. And it shows. An Alsatian winegrower, whom we recently questioned on the subject, was content to answer us by showing us an olive tree in the middle of his plots. As a whole, the vineyard continues its progression towards the north where the winegrowers seek acidity and freshness. Thus, large houses are investing in the United Kingdom. Why ? The regenerating promotes the ripening of the raisins. Or, higher sugar levels in grapes translate to higher alcohol levels and lower acidity levels.

The choice of winegrowers

The other factor in increasing the alcoholic degree refers to the methods of vine management and vinification to move towards more quality and promote the aromatic expression of a well-ripened grape.

An uneducated palate will seek fat and unctuous wines that winegrowers will respond to market trends for a time prompted by the “Californian taste” for full-bodied wines. To do this, they limited yields and used exogenous yeasts to speed up fermentations.

Behaviour change

Yesterday’s race for degrees responds today to the search for freshness. Consumers want lighter, easy-to-drink wines that also correspond to new culinary habits.

The disaffection for traditional dishes, which are often heavy, and the craze for lighter cuisine inspired by Asia encourage people to drink differently.

Aware of this paradigm shift, winegrowers are evolving. Early harvests, with the risk of harvesting grapes that are not quite ripe, planting later or less generous grape varieties in sugar, the race has already begun.

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