(CBS 5 / KPIX) A few
decades ago, the average California wine contained
about twelve percent alcohol. Today they clock in at
fifteen, sixteen even seventeen percent. And while
the numbers may still seem small, the effect on your
health could be serious.
From Chardonnay to Zinfandel, California wines are
spending more time on the vine, and feeling the
effects of a warmer climate. The result is a number
of high voltage wines that are uniquely Californian.
“They're really juicy and fruity and easy drinking,”
says Debbie Zachareas of Barcar in San Francisco.
But if you're drinking these new wines your actually
getting about 25 percent more alcohol than you would
from old 12 percent alternatives. And that extra
boost may not be good for your health. You've
probably heard that a small amount of wine is good
for the heart, but too much over time can also hurt
the heart, liver and brain.
“Ideally you should be having 25 percent less of it
to have the optimal amount of alcohol, but there is
no way of knowing that just by looking at the wine,”
says addiction specialist Dr. John Mendelson.
Women, who drink 60 percent of the wine in America,
also metabolize alcohol more slowly than men do. So
they may run a greater risk of health problems.
Studies have also shown that alcohol may even
increase the risk of breast cancer.
So while many California wines are packing a greater
punch, one winery based in St. Helena is bucking the
“We thought if we could deliver a great tasting,
really fresh bright wine that was lower in alcohol
for every day consumption, that would be a real
positive for women,” says Bettina Ferrando of
Berringer Blass Wine Estates.
Ferrando and coworker Tracey Mason are part of the
all-female team that has created a new wine that
will soon hit the store shelves. The White Lies
label is not only lower in alcohol, but also lower
in calories than most California bottles.
Other labels are not as quick to advertise their
alcohol content. So if you're hoping to watch your
intake levels in your current wine selection you may
need your reading glasses. Winemakers are required
by law to put the content on the label.
You should also know your geography. Cooler climates
produce wines with less alcohol. You can also try
some classic tricks like adding a little water to
the wine, or serving it with food.