August 2, 2007
British Lighten Up

Something's happening in England that American wine merchants might want to keep an eye on, given the United Kingdom's long and successful history in the marketing of wine. According to an article posted online by the Times of London, three supermarket chains are making a conscious effort to stock more lower-alcohol wines.

Their decision is an encouraging sign that consumer interest in more heavily bodied, intensely concentrated and higher alcohol wines may have peaked. While such wines often score high ratings by some influential critics, they aren't necessarily the most pleasant companions at the dinner table, tending to exhaust rather than refresh the palate.

But as the article points out, don't blame the critics alone for encouraging a beefier wine style. Global warming also looks to be playing a role, with some winemakers not yet adjusting their harvest practices to compensate for an uptick in temperatures during the growing season.

At any rate, the British could be about to rediscover the joys of lower-alcohol lambruscos, vinho verdes, rieslings and similar refreshing styles of wine, and if they catch on over there, their availability and respect could improve here.

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