Here is some interesting data from Live-Ex, the global fine wine marketplace regarding alcohol levels in Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Piemonte, and Tuscany.
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, nearly 20,000 of which have been verified by the warehouse team, who have checked the bottles one by one.
The chart shows significant growth in alcohol levels from the 1990’s through the 2000’s for all regions except Burgundy. However, over the past ten years only Bordeaux alcohols continue the steep climb. Tuscan reds show a modest increase, California shows a modest decline, and Piemonte and Burgundy are roughly flat.
If you pay attention to the discourse in the wine press and on Twitter, consumers have moved decisively toward lower alcohol wines in recent years. But it’s hard to tell whether that is showing up on this chart. It’s likely that this shift in consumer preferences is being masked by climate change which continues to push up ripeness levels. Perhaps consumer preferences for lower alcohol explains the decline in the rate of increase.
It also may be that the segment of the wine market paying attention to alcohol levels is vocal but small compared to the overall fine wine market.
At any rate, it looks like winemakers are taking steps to limit alcohol levels, although climate change is making it hard to significantly reverse earlier trends.