Tax Changes Hit Wine's Alcohol Levels

January 12, 2018

Congress's tax reform has had an unintended consequence for those who don't appreciate high-alcohol wines.

If you like high-alcohol wines, you won't care about this story. But if you don't, take notice: a US federal agency is about to make a monumental decision that will change the way you order wine.

The issue is the tolerance for misstated alcohol on wine labels. Currently in the US, if you order a wine and the label says it has 13.5 percent alcohol, you can be certain that it does not have 14.5 percent. Some people order wines based on this knowledge; it can be the difference between a refreshing Chardonnay and a flabby one.

But the label tolerance was based on tax law, and the taxes on wine are changing, thanks to the tax reform package Congress passed in December. And now your certainty of getting a lower-alcohol wine might be about to go away.

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