Why some wines have more alcohol strength than others

Sud de France Top 100 Gerard Bertrand Terroir Minervois AOC Minervois 2013

There I was, at my desk, feeling sorry for myself, when a work pal said he wasn’t 100% that morning.

He’d opened an Australian shiraz the night before and his senses weren’t tickety-boo.

I sympathised. We compared notes and we’d only had a couple of glasses of red on a school night.

My red (more of it later) was from the south of France with an abv of 14%.

It got me a-thinking; does everyone know why there’s a variation of alcohol percentages in wines?

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A night of wine and food celebrating Barone Pizzini and Italian wines

Barone Pizzini wine tasting

IT’S always lovely to meet Real People behind wines.  I was lucky enough to “break bread” with Silvano Brescianini, the CEO of Barone Pizzini, from the heart of Franciacorta, Italy, and enjoy  his wines with a lovely bunch of people at Liverpool’s Bretta & Co shop and bistro just off Bold Street.

Now I love franciacorta sparkling wine – forget that a prosecco drought may be heading our way – seek out franciacorta.

Franciacorta Animante
Franciacorta Animante

We began the evening with DOCG Franciacorta Brut ‘Animante’ Barone Pizzini (£19.99) which has won a gold medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2015.

This was so light and fresh, it danced. But because it is made in the traditional method (the same way as Champagne) from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot bianco, it has extra layers of complexity, a bit of toast, and a hover of honey.

Even better, I’m told that this is Bretta’s  house sparkling. Amazing. I’m heading back soon.

Our wines on the night:

Pievalta San Paolo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva (£14.95) Honey, hazlenuts, creamy and good acidity. Pievalta Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore (£10.50) The citrus flavours in this  organic and biodynamic white are  brighter than the mid-day sun in a June heatwave (we wish). Good acidity … and, what’s this? …. a savoury note too … and grapefruits and mandarins.  Really lovely.

Both were served with hand-made crab and prawn ravioli with a lobster and saffron bisque and a chive dill oil dressing. 

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Between courses,  a glass of DOCG Franciacorta Rosé (£24) tinkled in front of me. It’s 100 per cent pinot noir, with dried and fresh strawberry aromas hugged in the mouth with creamy red fruits.

Now then, the Bretta chefs had been busy preparing Surf and turf, with gnocchi and a rich lobster sauce butter.

And poured alongside was the red IGT Maremma Toscano Gnano 2011 (£18.75). The carignan grape is the star; this had so much pepper, it practically frazzled, but all was balanced by heaps of cherry compote and aromas of red fruit and leather.

Finally, a dessert wine. Now I love love love dessert (sweet) wines and so wish they  weren’t known as that, or I’m convinced more people would try them and become hooked.

But hey ho, with a strawberry and black pepper panacotta, we were served a glass of DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Passito Curina 2012 (£16.50, 50cl) and good acidity balanced by dried honey, apricots, and tingles of citrus.

I’m blessed.

I was a guest of Vintage Roots,  which sells a selection of Barone Pizzini’s organic wines.