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Dr. Vino's Verdict

High-Proof Pinot: Brilliant or Bogus?

© Dale Anderson

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think Pinot Noir with more than 14 percent alcohol is an abomination? A few years ago, star sommelier Rajat Parr incited controversy by banning Pinots above that threshold from the list at his San Francisco restaurant RN74. Some interpreted this as an across-the-board indictment of higher-alcohol wines, but Parr has said that the rule was simply put in place to pay homage to Burgundy, the French region where the weather is cool and the reds mostly range from 12.5 to 13.5 percent alcohol. In New World regions like Sonoma, where growing seasons can be warmer and grapes harvested later, Pinots can climb easily above 14 percent. Those wines have plenty of fans as well, and many experts would say that Pinots with that much alcohol can certainly be balanced and delicious.

Related: More from Dr. Vino
Wine 101: Pinot Noir
Fantastic Pinot Noir Pairings

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