Swirls: Wine alcohol levels, China's domestic wine growth, Italy overtakes France

The issue of alcohol levels in wine is getting a great deal of attention these days, much of it focused on California, where the high-alcohol wine “bubble” seems to be deflating a bit. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I generally prefer wines with more modest alcohol levels. Yes, I realize that is something of a blanket statement, but I usually find wines in the 13- 14-percent alcohol range a bit easier to drink than those at 14.5 percent or higher.  Dave McIntyre in the Washington Post has a good, balanced discussion of this.

Fascinating story on the growth of wine in China, not just the increasing appetite among wealthy Chinese for top Bordeaux and other “status” wine imports, but the explosion of China’s domestic wine industry, which has gone from 30,000 bottles three decades ago to six million bottles today, surpassing Australia’s production. Read the full story on Australia's ABC.

And in case you missed it, Italy has surpassed France to become the world’s biggest wine producer, according to data released by the European Commission. Italy churned out 4.96 liters of wine last year, compared with 4.62 billion liters for France. Spain is in third place and the U.S. is fourth. Read more here.

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