It’s All About Percentages — In Elections and Alcohol Content

It’s All About Percentages — In Elections and Alcohol Content

As we take in the election results, we reminded it’s all about percentages. The entire process revolves around them. Which got us thinking about the percentages of alcohol in wine. Because whether you’re celebrating or sulking, the percentage of alcohol may help you out. 

The alcohol in wine can vary from as low as 5% to as high as 20%. For comparison, a beer is generally 3-6% and a whiskey pour clocks in around 40%.

And much like that whiskey creates heat in the back of your throat, so do higher-alcohol wines.

In addition, wines with higher alcohol actually feel heavier on your tongue. It’s like the difference between skim milk, whole milk or heavy cream, says Kevin Zraly, one of the world’s greatest wine teachers and founder of the 41-year- old Windows on the World Wine School. Your big Cabernet Sauvignons will feel like heavy cream, whereas a good Pinot Noir may be more like whole milk and think of a light Rosé as your skim.

So Where Does Alcohol Come From?

Ok, here’s your Science lesson for the day.

Grape juice is turned into alcohol through the process of fermentation. In very simple terms, yeast is added to the crushed grapes. The yeast turns the sugar from the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is then considered fermented.

So basically, the more sugar means more alcohol.

The carbon dioxide dissipates into the air — except when making Champagne and other bubblys — where it is retained in a second fermentation to create those fabulous bubbles.

And We Need to Talk Those Legs

When you swirl the wine in your glass, you then may notice the wine dripping down the glass. The French call those drippings "tears." No surprise, we Americans like to refer to them as "legs" – because, no doubt, we’d rather talk about legs than tears.
The more legs in your glass, the more alcohol in the wine. So it gives your brain a sense of what it’s about to taste. But know this: Legs do not equal quality — they just equal alcohol.


here are some wine choices based on their alcohol content percentages.

Super Low/Drink All Day — 5% - 7.5%
Moscato d’Asti

Low — 10% to 13%
Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Medium-High — 13% to 14.5%

Pinot Noir
Red Bordeaux
Most Cabernet Sauvignon (some could be higher)

High — 14.5 – 20%
Port and other Fortified Dessert Wines
Sauternes (sweet white dessert wine)

Whatever you chose, please drink responsibility. It’s still alcohol after all.

Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.

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