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Liv-ex unveils alcohol growth levels in wine

Published:  22 June, 2021

Alcohol levels in wine have been rising over the past 30 years, with certain regions continuing to climb, Liv-ex has revealed.

As of 2020, Liv-ex began recording and verifying alcohol by volume (abv) values for wines. To date, it has recorded the alcohol levels of 35,000 wines, with nearly 20,000 of which have been verified by the warehouse team. Its analysis is based on 13,120 abv data points. 

It found that red wines from California, Piedmont and Tuscany saw a significant increase in alcohol levels from the 1990s to the 2000s, when they levelled off or began to pull back slightly. 

It alsofound that the alcohol levels of Bordeaux wines have continued to climb – albeit from the lowest base. Burgundy is the only of the five regions to show little movement.

Live-ex said that while rising alcohol levels have been noted before much of the discussion focused on the impact of climate change. 

It explained that while rising temperatures lead to riper grapes with more sugar, and therefore more alcohol, this is not the whole story. However, changing vineyard practices such as canopy management or picking time can moderate grape ripeness and in the winery, different yeasts can be used to reign in alcohol levels.  

Therefore it concluded that style preferences are also likely to have played a part in driving these increasing alcohol trends.

 “This is a remarkable snapshot of significant changes taking place in some of the world’s most important fine wine regions,” said Justin Gibbs, co-founder and director of Liv-ex.  

“These wines analysed represent wines traded on Liv-ex, a broad range of mostly fine wines. As the top end of the market typically sets the benchmark for the rest of the market, it is possible that this same pattern is being repeated across the value chain.”

Liv-ex has been collecting the abv data to generate commodity codes automatically, making it easier for its members to ship wine around the world.