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Alcohol levels in wine appear to be rising—but why, and should we be concerned?

The alcohol content of a bottle depends on the wine, the grape variety, decisions of the winemaker and, where appellation d’origine contrôlée regulations apply, the region.

The AOC laws decree that wines from Burgundy should be 13 per cent alcohol by volume so, in difficult years, winemakers may be forced to increase the level through “chaptalisation.” In the 19th century, Jean-Antoine Chaptal invented the technique of adding sugar to the fermenting juice for the yeast to convert to alcohol. There is no need to resort to…

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