You can trust a Kiwi wine! New Zealand is least likely to understate alcohol levels in its wines compared to other countries, a new study has found.

New Zealand is least likely to understate alcohol levels in its wines compared to other countries, a new study has found.

The American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) analysed the alcohol content of more than 129, 000 wines from vineyards in 10 countries from 1992 to 2009.

The results showed every country printed understated alcohol levels on wine labels with Chile, Argentina and the United States tending to do it more, and Portugal and New Zealand doing it far less.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said he was “delighted” that New Zealand was more accurate than other countries.

The wines analysed by AAWE were provided by the Liquor Control Board in Ontario, Canada.

The study found that 57 per cent of the wines were stronger than declared on the label.

And the average alcohol content was 13.6 per cent, higher than the average reported strength of 13.1 per cent.

The report said commercial wineries  were “systematically” understating alcohol content or overstating it.

“Some winemakers … have admitted that they deliberately chose to understate the alcohol content on a wine level within the range of error permitted by the law.”

“They believe that it would be advantageous for marketing the wine,” it said.

Gregan said he could not say whether winegrowers were intentionally misleading consumers.

“It’s important to understand, though, that it’s not an exact science the measurement of alcohol. It can vary from lab-to-lab.

“But it’s important that consumers get accurate information.”

The measure of alcohol content was subject to variation. “If you do a test and you do a test 15 minutes later, you can get a different measurement.”

New Zealand allowed for a 1.5  per cent legal tolerance. It was 10 per cent of the actual alcohol content before the New Zealand and Australian Food Standards merged.

Gregan said it supported a tighter tolerance.

“We believe consumers should be given the correct information.”

The difference between label disclosure and actual alcohol strength per country:

Portugal -0.05
New Zealand -0.06
Australia -0.09
Italy -0.09
France -0.1
Canada -0.13
Spain -0.21
United States -0.23
Argentina -0.24
Chile -0.27

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