A new study published in the Journal of Wine Economics found that the alcohol content in many wines is understated. Although in most cases, the labels were off by only a small fraction, the trend could mean that wine as we know it may become a thing of the past.

For the study, scientists from the University of California analyzed nearly 100,000 bottles of wine from all over the world and found that almost 60 percent of the samples contained slightly more alcohol than their labels reported. For example, the data showed that the average actual alcohol content in most wines was 13.30 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) while the average reported alcohol content was 13.16 percent ABV. This trend appeared in both red and white wines, although it was slightly more profound in North American wines than European varieties.

The findings are not too surprising. For years, the media has reported on suspected rising alcohol contents in wine around the world. For example, a 2014 The Guardian article highlighted the issue, suggesting that climate change may be to blame. Warmer temperatures make for sweeter grapes, and sweeter grapes produce more alcohol. While this may be true, it does not explain why wine producers fail to inform consumers of the new alcohol content. Seeing as it fairly easy and cheap to measure alcohol content, the inaccurate labels seem to have been done purposely.

According to the study, the reasoning for this may be purely economical. Many wine drinkers have certain expectations on their favorite makes, and when grapes fail to meet these expectations growers may simply change the label rather than risk losing profit. The researchers reported that some winemakers explicitly stated that they purposely choose to understate the alcohol content on a particular wine label, within the range of error permitted by the law, “because they believed that it would be advantageous for marketing the wine to have a stated alcohol content closer to what consumers would expect to find in a high quality wine of the type in question.”

While this report shows only small differences in wine’s alcohol content, The Guardian reported a 2% average global increase in the last two decades. Although some may believe that the increasing alcohol content in wine is a good thing — who doesn’t love a good wine buzz — just a one percent difference in alcohol content could mean the difference between whether or not you wake up with hangover the next day. In addition, alcohol content is an integral trait of wine. Many wine growers believe that no real wine should ever have an alcohol content higher than 14 percent. Unfortunately, this global trend could mean that true wine may one day become a thing of the past.

Source: Alston JM, Fuller KB, Lapsley JT. Soleas G, Tumber KP. Splendide Mendax: False Label Claims About High and Rising Alcohol Content of Wine. Journal of Wine Economics . 2015