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When you settle down to a great meal and a great glass of wine, you might not think about the alcohol level inside the wine you are drinking. But you should. Too high of an alcohol level can leave you sour on both your beverage and your meal. Wine Enthusiast Magazine, an expert in the food wine world, reports that winemakers are dealing with the alcohol "problem," as it has become known, by looking for ways to retain the ripe fruit and smooth tannins that consumers love, while reducing the alcohol to a more food-friendly level of 14 percent (or lower). Experts say the increase in alcohol levels is due to consumer demand for more intense flavors. It's important to remember that it's the balance of the fruit flavors, acid and the pH that makes a wine taste good, not the alcohol level, says Rob Newsom of Boudreaux Cellars, a 2,000-case boutique winery in Washington State. Today, more and more of the wines we drink are hot with palate-fatiguing levels of alcohol that regularly top 15, sometimes 16 and occasionally 17 percent. These high-octane ripe wines are powerful and appealing but are expensive to produce, and are getting more so. which means prices for consumers goes up. If you get a bottle of this potent wine, it's best to drink it right away. That's because once the fruit ages (usually very quickly since it's so ripe to begin with) and the tannins soften, what's left is a lot of alcohol flavor.