Wine Alcohol Content

A wines alcohol content is the result of many factors; varietal, region, and winemaking style. The alcohol level in wine needs to be appropriate for its varietal in order for it to be a balanced wine. A Gewurztraminer with 13% ABV will be very off balance. They typically have an ABV of 8-11%.

Cheaper wine may result in off-balanced alcohol content because of low-quality grapes being used, added sugars (resulting in higher alcohol), and overall poor winemaking. There are also many regional differences when it comes to the alcohol content in your favorite wines.

New World wine regions such as California and Chile tend to have higher alcohol levels than their Old World counterparts of France and Spain. This doesn’t have to do with the grapes necessarily, but winemakers preference.

How much alcohol is in your favorite wine?

Low Alcohol Content (Less than 12% ABV)

Sparkling

  • Prosecco
  • Moscato d’ Asti

White Wine

  • Riesling
  • Muscadet
  • Muscat Blanc

Red Wine

  • Gamay

Moderate Alcohol Content (12-13.5% ABV)

Sparkling Wine

  • Cava
  • Champagne

White Wine

  • Chardonnay (France)
  • Roussane
  • Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
  • Albarino
  • Gruner Veltliner
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Soave
  • Vermentino
  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc

Red Wine

  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Carmenere

High Alcohol Content (Over 13.5% ABV)

White Wine

  • Chardonnay (New World)
  • Viognier

Red Wine

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Grenache
  • Sangiovese
  • Aglianico
  • Mourvedre
  • Nebbiolo
  • Petit Verdot
  • Petite Sirah
  • Pinotage
  • Tempranillo
  • Merlot
  • Syrah/Shiraz
  • Zinfandel
  • Barbera

Fortified/Dessert Wines

  • Sherry
  • Madeira
  • Marsala
  • Port

Keep in mind that not all of these wines always stick to their designated category, and that’s okay. Using this list can help you find a wine that you are comfortable with and help you pick out a quality balanced wine.