This Matter of Table Wines

“I have been with the Wine of the Month Club for three years…in the past year I have noticed more ‘table wines’…I belong to the club to try new wines and wineries. Not table wines that I have little control of their contents and would be unable to compare vintages”.

F.C., Santee

This is an interesting note that I received of which the response I wanted to share with everyone. After initial and further research, it seems that no real delineation is made as to the requirement of the labeling “table wine”.

From the Wine of the Month Club inventory I found only one consistent variable. All the import­ed wines we have featured in let’s say the last 8 months were labeled with some type of “wine” designa­tion. Here are some the designa­tions I saw: Red Table Wine, Red Wine from Tuscany, White Wine from France, White Wine Product of Australia, Red Table Wine and others. However, after searching through the hundreds of samples that are ready for tasting, I found that not all imports were necessari­ly labeled with this designation. As well, not many of the domestic se­lections were labeled with this seemingly required designation. I was reading one of the labels of a Chenin Blanc and not one mention of the word wine was to be found anywhere on the label. This per­plexed me because all wine label­ing must be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco and Fire­arms before the wine can be sold in America. So, I called the B.A.T.F….This is what I uncov­ered: It is a requirement to put the alcohol content of every wine in a conspicuous place for the public to read. In California, we choose to actually state the content in per­centage points ie. this month’s Ca­bernet Sauvignon is 13.5% alcohol by volume. Had the winery chose to do so, they could have labeled it “table wine”. The term “table wine” according to the Federal Government means no less or more that the fact that the wine has between 7 and l4 percent alcohol. Some of the imports I examined listed both the alcohol content and the phrase “table wine”, this is a redundant procedure. It is impor­tant to note that each country and origin of wine has its own set of criteria that allows for differences in the quality of the region from which the wine is produced. Each country is different and in fact the U.S. does not even have this re­gional quality designation. But as for the mere mention of “table wine”, this is only a reference to the alcohol content of what is in­side the bottle. Et is important also to note that “table wine” can refer to vintage, non-vintage, varietal and non-varietal wines. It’s what’s inside the bottle that counts, not what’s on the label. Salud and thanks for the inquiry, please keep them coming, it is lonely in the mail-order business.

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