A Sweet New Way to Buy Wine at the LCBO

Posted by: samy April 21, 2012 No Comments

Remember the days when before buying an unfamiliar wine, you’d check the number rating beside the price? “0” would tell you the wine was dry, “3” would tell you it was sweet.

Then, with your Black Tower in hand, you’d stroll up to the counter confident in your purchase.  Easy peasy, right?

Not so says the LCBO, as it gets ready to roll out a new way to rate the sweetness of a wine.

The old, 0-1-2-3 system was archaic and misleading, says Leonard Franssen, manager of Quality Services for the LCBO.  Under the old system, wines that weren’t technically dry could be listed as “0” where as wines that were technically dry, could fall into the “2” or “3” categories.

The LCBO's new sweetness rating system shows the sweet rating and sugar grams per litre of wine in the bottom left corner

The new system rolls out April 29, and consumers will see a letter where the number once was, accompanied by the sugar grams per litre in the wine.  With five levels ranging from extra dry to sweet, consumers will see “XD” for extra dry, “D” for dry, “M” for medium, “MS” for medium sweet and “S” for sweet.  For those health conscious drinkers, the exact amount of sugar grams per litre of wine will be a helpful way for them to monitor their consumption.  (Incidentally, there’s about 500 calories in a bottle of regular table wine, if you’re interested).

“Consumers want more education,” says Franssen, noting that displaying the sugar grams on the bin label gives wine shoppers quick information for healthy life style options.

This new system comes after a four-year study that included taste tests with both LCBO professionals and nearly 500 LCBO consumers across the province.  The taste testers’ results were cross referenced with a chemical analysis of sugar content and acidity levels in the wines itself, and from that sweet ratings were formulated.

To help ease consumers into the new way of doing things, the LCBO will launch a month long campaign that will include newspaper inserts, in-store displays, online support on the LCBO website and downloadable customer videos.   Currently the rating system is only for table wines.  Sparkling, fortified, dessert wines and wine coolers are not currently under the new system, but there are plans to change them over in the future.

The range of sugar grams in each sweetness category


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