Beyond abv - what matters when you buy wine?

Pinot NoirView larger image

There are certain things we expect to know when we buy wine, such as the alcohol content, the grape and the region, plus essential allergy information like whether the wine contains sulphites - although naturally occurring sulphur dioxide is present in wine even if no extra is added.

But what else might matter? According to a team from the University of Helsinki, quite a few things influenced the flavour of eight Pinot Noir wines they analysed from all over the world.

Study leader Dr Heli Siren said: "All the winemakers that produce Pinot Noir start with the same thing - grapes - and end up with very different products. We wanted to find out what causes those differences."

The team found that they could determine from the finished wine whether sulphur dioxide had been added, and also the sugars that had been added during its manufacture.

Different fermentation techniques also led to different levels of organic compounds, with modern methods like biodynamic fermentation associated with the lowest levels.

The researchers now suggest that it might be sensible to include these extra pieces of information on labels, so that enthusiasts can make an even more informed decision when they buy wine.