Wine labelling, alcohol et al

Two reports appeared on the long topic of alcohol this week.  These reports seem seldomly appear to be good news for the wine drinker.  The first is a study in the US (here it is).  It found among other things that:
"the label claims on average understate the true alcohol content by about 0.39% alcohol for Old World wine (red or white) and about 0.45% for New World wine (red or white)."
In Australia, alcohol levels that appear on wine labels have a permitted margin for error of 1.5% (this Wine Australia publication has further information about wine label compliance).  In Europe, the tolerance for error appears to be 0.5%/0.8% depending on the scenario.  My view is that wine labelling should be as transparent as possible (for some previous thoughts on the same topic see here) and that an accurate label is a good label.  Hopefully this might encourage producers towards alcohol levels on labels that are as accurate as is able to be technically achieved.

The second is a much publicised change to UK public health guidelines (see here), revising down suggested maximum alcohol intake to 14 "units" per week.  Were that of comfort, "units" in that jurisdiction appear to be less than the "standard drinks" measure shown on wine labels in Australia.  Wishing you all a moderate new year!
January 13, 2016


Volker Trede said…
I have never fully understood why Australia allowed a margin of error of +/- 1.5%. A Shiraz at 14.5% could be as much as 16% or as low as 13%. Why not state a more accurate (and less confusing for consumers) level?
Sean Mitchell said…
I agree. I'll have to dig out the texts, but a few other jurisdictions I think have similarly wide margins. The EU approach or, better still, the closest sensible approach to an accurate measure would be ideal.

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