An Overview of Reading Wine Labels
This month let’s take a look at navigating labels in the wine industry and the many laws, rules and regulations that govern each and every wine label that we present to you.
The Tax and Trade Bureau for Alcohol and Tobacco (TTB) is the regulating agency of the wine industry. All bonded wineries, such as WineShop At Home, have to comply with its complex set of rules. The content of each label that we produce under our bonded license is carefully examined because several features are required. Vintage, brand, appellation, Government Warning, and percentage of alcohol are common to all labels. The differences appear only when you use a fanciful name or a varietal as you can see below.
The TTB requires an additional tax class on the label when a fanciful name is used. This tax class is based on the percentage of alcohol. You will see names such as “Red Table Wine” or “White Table Wine” which are required for wines under 14% alcohol, and you will see “Red Wine” or “White Wine” for wines above 14% alcohol. Homage Cellars’ “Lot 22,” Panache Lane’s “Flamboyant,” Somersville Cellars’ “Red Meritage, Terroir Cellars’ “L’Ouverture,” Cookie “Red Velvet” and Royal Mama “Mimi’s Blend” are all examples of fanciful names of wine brands that we have produced. Our Table White Wine is actually the name of our brand and also, as it turns out, it is a TTB class denomination, “White Table Wine.”
However, many wineries from higher-end appellations like the Napa Valley carry their own Red Wines, Red Table Wines, White Wines and White Table Wines. These wines can be found in a wide range of price points, from $10 to above $150 per bottle. Legal information required by the TTB must be present on a label, but don’t let these arbitrary classifications fool you, as they in no way, shape or form, translate to the quality of the wine inside the bottle.
WineShop At Home wines are now produced with an added feature on the label.
On the back labels of our wines, you will find a bar code. This code does not mean that our wines are available in stores or restaurants. This code is not a UPC code from a big box store. This tracking code allows our warehouse team to keep a close eye on depletion and most importantly to accurately fulfill an order using the latest scanning technology. Affectionately called the “sweet-o-meter”, this new feature will allow you to quickly determine the level of dryness of that particular bottle.
When you purchase a wine from WineShop At Home, you know that what is on the label is in perfect harmony with federal requirements. You also know that what is inside the bottle— the wine—is the highest quality at the greatest value.