Big, burly, high alcohol by volume American wines could soon get a boost. A bill working its way through Congress lowers the tax rate on wines between 14 and 16 percent alcohol by volume.
The bill, called the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017, would lower the taxes on 16 percent alcohol by volume wine by .50 cents a gallon. Ideally, the bill will help small craft brewers and craft distillers by lowering the tax burden. Lowering the cost for making higher alcohol wine is just a small, mostly ignored part of the bill.
Under current tax law, wine that’s 14 percent and under is taxed $1.07 per gallon. For wines 14 to 16 percent, it’s $1.57 per gallon. The bill would strike the “14 percent” tax qualification in the Internal Revenue Code set in 1986 and replace it with “16 percent.”
Groups like the Wine Institute are in favor of the bill, according to Food & Wine. But if you’re a fan of more nuanced, more sessionable wines, this might concern you. Are the giant zinfandels from California not enough? What about all of the huge reds already on the market? Making more American wines with higher alcohol content could push people away from domestic wines and toward European wines with more balance.
On the other hand, there is a time and a place for high alcohol wines. Some wines actually benefit from higher alcohol, and helping out small independent producers is a good thing.
Yet we may not have to worry about this problem or debate it at all. Despite support from organizations like the Wine Grape Growers of America and the Hop Growers of America, Skopos Lab, an artificial intelligence platform that predicts policy changes, only gives the bill a 3 percent chance of passing. A sister bill in the House of Representatives has 170 cosponsors, and in the Senate, the “overall text of the bill” is weighing it down, Skopos writes.
Only time will tell if more, cheaper high alcohol wines are coming. Till then, enjoy your balance.
h/t: Food & Wine