Strength of wine

I was pleased to read that Evelyn Gillan of Alcohol Focus Scotland has welcomed a new industry-led campaign to increase the availability of 125ml wine servings across Scotland (your report, 22 January).

This initiative is aimed at enhancing consumer choice and promoting responsible drinking, however, the assertion by Ms Gillan that not so long ago wine would typically have been 8 or 9 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) is worth correcting.

Under EU regulations, most wine can only be classified as such if it is 8.5 per cent ABV, therefore it would be almost impossible for the average ABV of wine in the UK to have been 8 or 9 per cent.

Wine is an agricultural product and therefore ABV is largely determined by the climate in which it is made. It is very difficult to produce a wine below 10 per cent ABV. While a 2008 HMRC study found there had been a marginal increase in the ABV strength of wine (approximately 1 per cent) this was primarily due to an increase in wine from warmer climates like Australia.

It should be noted that this slight increase in ABV is nowhere near the 4-5 per cent ABV increase suggested by Ms Gillan.

William Boyack

Wine and Spirit Trade 

Bermondsey Street