Alcohol Firms Misleading Public on Alcohol Content in Wine

Published On: January 25, 2016

A shocking new study reveals more than sixty percent of wine bottles sold in western countries such as the USA and UK contain MORE alcohol content than is declared on their label. This revelation means the alcohol industry is making a mockery of rules regarding fair and transparent advertisement. 

The revelations also put the validly of current laws relating to ‘drink driving’ limits into question, since many wine drinkers will surely be unable to judge when they’ve ‘had enough’ if they don’t even know the true alcohol content of what they drink.  

Reacting to the study, the NHS says this is particularly worrying for women drinkers who intend to drive, given women’s bodies do not process alcohol as efficiently as their male peers.

The results of the report also call into question the Government’s strategy of recommending a ‘daily’ limit of alcohol units. Surely such a recommendation is impossible to follow if alcohol manufacturers cannot be bothered to correctly report the alcohol content of their offerings? 

The study in question was conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis.  A massive 100,000 bottles of wine were tested during the study.   60% of that number had on average 0.42% more alcohol than the labelling declared. So, for instance, a bottle purposing to contain 13.4% alcohol contained 13.7%

The study analysed wine produced from many different global locations. Red wines from Spain, Argentina and Chile were found to be the worst offenders for misreporting their wine’s true alcohol content.   For white wines, the worst offending wine producers hailed from the USA and Chile. 

The study’s lead researcher, Professor Julian Alston, said: “A discrepancy of 0.4 percentage points might not seem large relative to an actual value of 13.6 percent alcohol by volume, but even errors of this magnitude could lead consumers to underestimate the amount of alcohol they have consumed in ways that could have some consequences for their health and driving safety.”

The report also said: “There is a tendency to overstate the alcohol content for wine that has relatively low actual alcohol, and a tendency to understate the alcohol content for wine that has relatively high alcohol content.”

The Government has over the last two decades demonstrated its repeated reluctance to ‘get tough’ on the alcohol industry. 

The Government has favoured advising the public on issues such as ‘alcohol consumption limits’ rather than pressing ahead with meaningful and effective measures that would reduce the nation’s alcohol problem. Perhaps the time has come for the Government to pass legislation that will contain the clearly over powerful and over-confident alcohol industry.

The wine industry even admitted during the study that it was well aware of the discrepancy between their wine’s true alcohol content and what was reported on bottles. The wine industry claims to slightly increase the alcohol content of wine in order to ‘meet customers’ expectation’ regarding how ‘strong’ the wine should be.

Speaking to Rehab 4 Alcoholism, Tom Smith of Alcohol Concern said: “We need the Government to ensure accurate health warnings on alcohol products are made mandatory, as is standard practice in other countries.”

“The public should be able to make informed choices about their health and drinkers have a right to know what they’re consuming.

“For consumers to be fully informed, every alcohol label should include an evidence-based health warning about the risks of drinking, as well as describing the product’s nutritional, calorific and alcohol unit content.”

Rehab 4 Alcoholism offers alcohol rehab clinics throughout the United Kingdom. Call in confidence on 0800 111 4108.

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