Lately I've been discussing wine alcohol levels with winemakers, attorneys specializing in alcohol label law, scientists who test alcohol levels as well as consumers. What is striking is that few really understand the nuances of alcohol label laws. Still, alcohol levels are a hot topic in many wine quarters.
My sense is that wine lovers do care about alcohol levels to some degree, even though they know that the number printed on the label might not be exactly accurate. Does knowing that most wineries are trying to comply with the spirit of the law, printing alcohol percentages as accurately as possible, make you more interested or concerned with knowing what's printed on the label? Or are the legal minds right in thinking you don't care?
In winebiz talk, the affable chairman of Beaulieu Vineyards elucidated, an official wine depletion comes after, and only after, a wine is opened and consumed and when the toilet is flushed.
That may sound a bit crude, but up until the point at which a wine is drunk, or at least opened, it is still in inventory somewhere.
It could be in a winery tasting room, or a warehouse or in someone's private collection. But so long as it's in inventory means it is in someway clogging the system. And that's one factor in today's sluggish wine economy. Those who have cellared wines, and built inventories, have eased off on buying and are drinking down their cellars. Until they start buying again in earnest, the wine logjam will persist.