Taste test reveals 13.6% alcohol as best for Cabernet Sauvignon

Consumers prefer the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon made with intermediately-picked fruit, a new study shows.

According to research published in journal Food Chemistry, reds with over 13% alcohol scored most highly among the study’s participants, with researchers identifying 13.6% as the ideal alcohol level.

More than 100 consumers were given five Cabernets from a South Australian vineyard harvested between one and four weeks apart, with alcohols ranging from 11.8% to 15.5%. Wines made from earlier picked fruit – with levels of 11.8% and 12.9% – were least liked, while intermediately-picked fruit scored highly for rich fruit flavour and increased viscosity.

Lead author of the study and senior scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute, Dr Keren Bindon, told Wine-Searcher.com that the team had anticipated the two ripest wines, with alcohol levels of 14.2% and 15.5%, would score most highly.

“But the consumers didn’t agree. This is what makes the findings so interesting – you can actually bring alcohol down naturally in the vineyard, as you’re not gaining anything from a consumer standpoint by waiting for flavour and texture to change as the grapes ripen further,” she said.

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