Any type of alcoholic beverage label contains the amount of alcohol within that bottle. This is done so that the consumer is aware of exactly what they are putting into their body and can make the most well informed decisions on how much to drink. The idea is that knowing the alcohol content of one’s drink will allow that person to predetermine how much they will be able to consume. However, it has been found that some wine companies are misrepresenting exactly how much alcohol is in their wine. This deception can prove dangerous by leading to over consumption of alcohol and can increase the likelihood that someone would make poor decisions because of an elevated amount of alcohol in their system.
Researchers at the University of California released their study to the Journal of Wine Economics after finding that alcohol content was actually, on average, 0.42% higher than reported on the labels. And while this type of discrepancy might not seem like a big problem, researchers are insistent that the misleading of consumers is not only unethical, but dangerous as well.
“A discrepancy of 0.4 percentage points might not seem large relative to an actual value of 13.6 per cent 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,” explained Professor Julian Alston, of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California.
In response to the study, some wine makers have admitted to altering the stated alcohol content on the label because they are trying to keep more in line with what consumers are expecting. According to the research, Spanish and Chilean wines were the biggest offenders in the red wine category, while American and Chilean wines were the biggest offenders in the white wine category.
Accurate and truthful labeling, especially when it comes to alcohol, is necessary to ensure that drinkers are given the proper opportunity to engage in safe alcohol consumption. Covertly decreasing the amount of stated alcohol content can lead some people to consume more alcohol than intended and set the drinker up for dangerous decision making and alcohol habits.