Understanding Wine Labels & Required Information
Regulations are a dry subject to read, so you might want to get a cup of coffee before diving into this subject. There are nine major requirements for wine labels addressed in this article, which should take around 12 minutes to read– depending on how many times you nod asleep throughout the process. In order to prevent deception of the consumer and provide them with “adequate information” regarding the identity and quality of the product, as well as to prohibit false or misleading statements and to provide information regarding the alcohol content of the product, “TTB’s regulations” were established.
- To maintain the integrity of the industry
- To safeguard customers
- And to prevent unfair trade practices from occurring
The sample label provided below is intended to serve as a straightforward reference for wine that is bottled and labeled in the United States, with a quick synopsis for each area specified. Complete rules and regulations may be found on the TTB website. This document contains general information designed to assist winemakers in submitting successful Certificate of Label Applications (COLAs, TTB form 5100.3) to the TTB and obtaining a Certificate of Label. When appropriate, the corresponding Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is referenced, with the majority of them being located in Title 27/Chapter I/Subchapter A/Part 4.
read) Additional information added to wine label designs that goes beyond the standards of the TTB must adhere to the following rules and regulations:
- It must be accurate, detailed, and true, and it must not be deceptive. Any other mandatory information may not be in contradiction with or qualify any other mandatory information
- It must adhere to the provisions of the relevant portions of the rules.
1. Brand Name or Producer Identification
It must be exact, detailed, and true, and it must not be misleading; and Any extra mandatory information must not be in contradiction with or qualify any other mandatory information. Each provision of the regulations must be followed to the letter; and
- Containers 187 mL or smaller must have a minimum thickness of 1 mm. Containers bigger than 187 mL must have a minimum thickness of 2 mm.
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
2. Bottler’s Name and Address
Every wine bottle label must include the name of the bottler, the city in which the bottler is located, and the state in which the bottler is located, exactly as it appears on the basic permit. This information must be preceded by either the words “Bottled by” or “Packed by,” depending on the format of the bottle. Terms that are optional: In addition to the mandatory information listed above, there are other alternatives for extra information, such as wine that is produced in one area and bottled or packaged in another site.
Make careful to understand the precise requirements to determine which circumstance is most appropriate for your winery’s needs.
Size requirements for the bottler’s name and address are as follows:
- Containers 187 mL or smaller must have a minimum thickness of 1 mm. Containers bigger than 187 mL must have a minimum thickness of 2 mm.
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
3. Varietal Designation, Class/Type, American Viticultural Area
Simply expressed, this refers to the sort of wine contained within the bottle. It is necessary to add the Appellation of Origin when using a varietal designation (for example, Merlot). (See 27 CFR 4.23(b) for further information). The term ‘Wine’ is usually required–for example, a label stating ‘Rose’ will not enough to fulfill the Varietal Designation criteria; instead, the label must state ‘Rose Wine’ in order to qualify as the type. Regulation 4.21 (a)(1)(iv) of the Code of Federal Regulations Specification Requirements:Varietal references (for example, 50 percent Merlot and 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) take precedence over the class/type designation (American Red Wine), regardless of whether the wine is made from a single grape variety or from a blend of two or more grape varieties as the type designation.
- It is required that mandatory information be in bold or at least twice the size of any surrounding text in order to comply with TTB regulations.
- A wine blend that contains different varietals must include the proportion of each grape on the label, with a total of 100 percent as the sum of the percentages on the label, according to TTB regulations.
- Fanciful Names:Fanciful names are completely optional and do not fulfill or replace any of the information that must be included on a product label.
- (See 27 CFR 4.34(a) for further information).
- Before submitting a label COLA, formulas must be authorized by TTB, and a statement of composition for the label will be suggested by the agency (Rose Wine with natural flavors added, as an example).
Please keep in mind that on non-standard wine labels, the vintage date and grape varietals are not authorized. Regulations at 27 CFR 4.27(a) and 4.39(n)). Specifications for Varietal, Class/Type, and Viticultural Area Type Size:
- Containers 187 mL or smaller must have a minimum thickness of 1 mm. Containers bigger than 187 mL must have a minimum thickness of 2 mm.
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
4. Appellation of Origin, Country of Origin (Where Are The Grapes Grown)
For geographic wine labels, a state, county, or American Viticultural Area (AVA) might be used. The grapes used to make geographic wine must have been farmed entirely within the designated area: 85 percent for AVA classifications and 75 percent for state or county designations, respectively. If a wine is labeled “American Merlot,” for example, it must be sourced from Merlot grapes farmed in the United States for at least 75% of the wine to be considered “American Merlot.” The term ‘American’ is used as the Appellation of Origin in this case.
When a vintage date is used on the label, appellation of origin text is required, and both must appear together– for example, if the appellation of origin is ‘America’ and the class/type is ‘Red Wine,’ this text must appear on the same label– either on the front, back, or on the same label if multiple separate labels are used in your packaging design– and both must appear together.
Brand Labels in Two Pieces: If your label design has a two-piece layout with a varietal designation or a vintage date, the appellation of origin, the class/type designation, and the vintage date must all be included on the same label.
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
5. Alcohol Content
The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of a bottled wine refers to the percentage of the wine that contains alcohol. Under U.S. law, a 1.5 percent deviation from the alcohol by volume (ABV) indicated on the wine label is permitted. It should be noted that this is not the “proof”– alcohol proof is twice the percent ABV, thus a 100-proof whiskey would contain 50 percent alcohol by volume. Proof is not utilized in the production of wine labels. Any wine with an alcohol content by volume (ABV) of 14 percent or more must be accompanied with a specific alcohol content by volume declaration.
- Unless the words “Table Wine” appear on the label, no alcohol content information is required if the alcohol level is between 7 percent and 14 percent by volume, and the label states that the alcohol content is between 7 percent and 14 percent.
- The term “Table Wine” is also used to designate the Class/Type of wine.
- Dessert Wine: Wines with an alcohol concentration of more than 14 percent by volume but less than 24 percent by volume are referred to as ‘Dessert Wines’ by the U.S.
- Dessert Wine, in contrast to Table Wine, is not deemed by the TTB to be a valid Class/Type classification; instead, a more appropriate label, such as ‘Red Wine,’ would be needed.
- It should be noted that dessert wines are not needed to be identified as dessert wines on the label simply because they fulfill the criterion of having an alcohol content more than 14 percent.
(See 27 CFR 4.21(a)(3) for further information). As previously stated, any wine with an ABV more than 14 percent by volume must be labeled with the percentage of alcohol content. 4.36(a) of the Federal Regulations Type and size requirements for alcohol content:
- It is measured in percentage of the bottled wine that contains alcohol (alcohol content by volume, or ABV) Under U.S. law, a 1.5 percent deviation from the alcohol by volume (ABV) stated on the wine label is permitted. It should be noted that this is not the “proof”– alcohol proof is twice the percent ABV, therefore a 100-proof whiskey would contain 50% ABV. For wine labeling, proof is not used. In order to sell wine with an ABV of 14 percent or more, a particular alcohol content by volume declaration is necessary. 4.36(a) of the 27 CFR Unless the words “Table Wine” appear on the label, no alcohol content information is required if the alcohol concentration is between 7 percent and 14 percent by volume, and the label specifies that it is a rosé. 4.36(a) of the 27 CFR Aside from being the Class/Type classification, “Table Wine” is also used. 4.21a(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). Dessert Wine: Wines with an alcohol concentration of more than 14 percent by volume but less than 24 percent by volume are referred to as ‘Dessert Wines’ by the United States Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). For the same reasons as Table Wine, TTB does not consider Dessert Wine to be a valid Class/Type classification
- Instead, an appropriate label such as “Red Wine” is required. 4.21(a) of the Code of Federal Regulations It is important to note that dessert wines are not obliged to be identified as dessert wines on the label merely because they fulfill the criterion of having an alcohol content more than 14 percent. 4.21(a)(3) of the Code of Federal Regulations Any wine with an ABV more than 14 percent by volume, as previously indicated, must be labeled with the percentage of alcohol in the glass. 4.36(a) of the 27 CFR Specify the kind and size of alcohol used.
6. Vintage Date
It is mandatory for a wine label to include an Appellation of Origin in addition to the Vintage Date on the label. (See 27 CFR 4.27(a) for further information). Size requirements for the bottler’s name and address are as follows:
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
7. Net Volume of Contents
This is the amount of liquid that is contained within the container in terms of volume. For a standard bottle of wine, the volume is often measured in milliliters (e.g., 750 mL). The following are the fundamental guidelines (27 CFR 4.37(a-c)):
- If the net contents are greater than one liter, the net contents are expressed in liters and a decimal fraction of a liter that is accurate to one-hundredth of a liter. If the net contents are less than one liter, the net contents are reported in milliliters. If the container holds less than a liter, the contents must be specified in milliliters (ml). If the equivalent amount is less than 100 fluid ounces, the volume must be expressed in fluid ounces and must be precise to one-tenth of an ounce. Whenever possible, equivalent quantities of 100 fluid ounces or greater will be reported in fluid ounces to the closest full fluid ounce accuracy
- It is permissible to display the corresponding US measure when the contents are specified in metric measure, using one or more of the following standards: Filling norms in metric units are as follows: Three-and-a-half liters (101 fl. oz. )
- 1.5 liters (50.7 fl. oz. )
- One liter (33.8 fl. oz. )
- 750 ml (25.4 fl. oz. )
- Five-hundred-milliliters (16.9fl. oz. )
- One-hundred-and-fifty-milliliters (12.7fl. Net contents may be marked on the bottle itself by etching, molding, blowing, underglaze, or any other method as long as it is plainly visible and not covered by the bottle’s shape or design. If the net volume is going to be printed on the bottle, it must be specified in item 19 of the COLA application, or in the specific language section if the application is being submitted online.
Net Contents Volume (in GB) Size Requirement for the Type:
- Combined Net Contents Volume Specification for Type Size:
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
8. Sulfite Declaration
If the total sulfur dioxide content or the presence of a sulfating agent is greater than 10 parts per million (ppm), a sulfite statement such as “Contains Sulfites” or “Contains (a) Sulfating Agent(s)” must be included on the wine label. (See 27 CFR 4.32(e) for further information). If a laboratory investigation indicates that the sulfite level is less than 10 parts per million (ppm), there is no need to file a sulfite declaration. The lab analysis can be done by TTB or by a TTB-Certified laboratory; in either instance, the lab analysis must be given to TTB as part of the COLA application submission.
27 CFR 4.38(b) and (c)
9. Health Warning Statement
Any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol concentration of 0.5 percent or more is obliged to have a Health Warning Statement on the labeling. (See 27 CFR 16.20.) On the label of any wine container intended for sale or distribution, the Health Warning Statement must be displayed in accordance with the following rules:
- In order to be legible, the words “GOVERNMENT WARNING” must be typeset in bold, capital characters. All capitals are permitted for the remainder of the warning
- However, bold is not required. Capitalization is required for Surgeon General (both the initial “S” and the final “G”)
The following is the text that must be included in the Health Warning Statement: Warning from the government: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should avoid consuming alcoholic drinks while pregnant due to the risk of birth problems. (2) (2) In addition to impairing your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, consuming alcoholic drinks can lead to health concerns. Type and size requirements for a health warning statement:
- Containers with a capacity of 237 mL or less must have a minimum thickness of 1 mm. Containers larger than 237 mL or smaller than 3 L must have a minimum thickness of 2 mm. Containers bigger than 3 L should have a minimum thickness of 3 mm.
(See 27 CFR 16.22(a) for further information.)
There is a Lot More to Learn About Wine Label Regulations
Even attempting to make the laws for wine labels more straightforward is difficult. Please go to theTTB website for a complete explanation of the requirements that apply to your individual winery in order to ensure that you are fully compliant. You might also be interested in: Wine labels, according to studies, are critical to sales (3 min. read)
TTBGov – Wine Labeling
When selling wine in the United States, it is necessary to ensure that the product is correctly labeled. This includes cider and mead. This document will assist you in understanding the regulations of the TTB for wine labels.
Key Wine Labeling Topics
When selling wine in the United States, it is necessary to ensure that it is correctly labeled. This covers cider and mead as well. TTB’s criteria for wine labels are explained in detail in this advice.
- Domestic wines with 7 percent or more alcohol by volume
- Domestic wines with less than 7 percent alcohol by volume
- Imported wines with 7 percent or more alcohol by volume
Getting Back to the TopMandatory Wine Label InformationAn explanation of each phrase that must appear on the majority of wine labels
|Required information on thebrand label||Required information on any label|
- Appellation of Origin (which may be required in some cases)
- Brand name
- Class or Kind Designation (the type of wine based on the norms of identification)
- And a description of the wine. If appropriate, the percentage of imported wine
- Alcohol Content
- Color Ingredient Disclosures (if applicable)
- Country of Origin (for imports only)
- Health Warning Statement
- Name and Address
- Net Contents Declaration of Sulfite Content
Are you in the process of designing your label? Prior to submitting an application for label approval, please review this Mandatory Information Checklist. You’re looking for a succinct reference to the necessary labeling information.
See the Wine, Beverage, and Alcohol Manual for further information. Return to the top of the page Optional Wine Label InformationThere are some rules that must be followed if you choose to label wine with this optional data.
- Wine labels in the United States must include the Appellation of Origin (which is obligatory in some instances)
- American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)
- And Grape Variety Designations on American Wine Labels.
- Gluten Content Statements
- Major Food Allergen Labeling
- Nutrient Content, Serving Facts, Alcohol Facts, and Sugar Content Statements
- And Statements Related to Nutrient Content, Serving Facts, Alcohol Facts, and Sugar Content
Return to the top of the page Making an application for Label Approval The TTB approvals you’ll need for your labels, as well as where to get them.
- Checklist for Mandatory Information (Make certain your labels comply with TTB rules)
- Typical turnaround times for label applications
- Changes that are permitted to approved labels are shown in the table below.
- Customers can log in to COLAs Online, register for COLAs Online, and access the Customer Support Page.
Back to TopLaws, regulations, and other TTB guidance are available here.
- Laws and regulations governing wine
- Industry circulars
- And more.
- Treasury Decisions
- Other public guidance
- The Wine Beverage Alcohol Manual (BAM)
- And other relevant information.
Return to the top of the pageRelated Information
- Advertising for alcoholic beverages (includes packaging such as boxes and cartons that carry bottles)
Return to the top of the page GET IN TOUCH WITH US More information about labeling can be obtained by contacting us at 202-453-2250 or toll free at 866-927-ALFD (2533), or by sending us an email using ourALFD Contact Form. For further contact information, please see our customer service desk information page. The page was last updated on September 27, 2019. The most recent update was made on March 1, 2021. The Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division is in charge of keeping the site up to date.
Dessert Wine: Why It’s Different From Other Wines and How to Pair It
In the minds of many, the word “dessert wine” conjures up images of syrupy concoctions that leave a bitter taste in the mouth. For after all, in today’s health-conscious age of low-sugar wines, keto diets, and carb-free living, who wants to drink a cloyinglysweet wine that may send your insulin levels skyrocketing and leave a sticky feeling on your tongue for hours after you’ve finished your glass? (It’s possible that there are a handful of you out there.) While the increasing popularity of dry wines (that is, wines that are not sweet) might appear to spell the end of sweet wines, this is not necessarily the case.
To that end, please allow us to provide you with some background information about dessert wine and how it differs from other types of wines.
What IsDessert Wine?
Dessert wine may be defined as any wine that is consumed during or after dessert in its broadest meaning. Dessert wine, to be more exact, is often sweet, has a distinct taste, and has a higher alcohol concentration. For example, Port, Madeira, Sherry, and late-harvest wines are all examples of late-harvest wines. Traditionnal dessert wines having an alcohol content of more than 15 percent by volume (ABV). Nonetheless, low-alcoholdessert wines with less than 10% alcohol by volume (ABV) are available, such Muscadet, Moscato d’Asti, and Brachetto d’Acqui.
- In other words, the amount of sugar that is left over after the fermentation process has taken place.
- A variety of methods were used by winemakers to create essert wines.
- It might be created from late-harvest grapes that have been allowed to raisinate and increase in sugar content as a result of being kept on the vine for a longer period of time.
- Alternatively, it may be sweetened by fortification, resulting in the production of fortified wines.
- While most dessert wines are on the sweeter side, there is a wide range of styles available under the category of dessert wines.
To be clear, dessert wines are not merely sweet, one-trick ponies, as you may have previously believed. They are deserving of a lot more recognition than that.
What to Look for inDessert Wine
Dessert wines, as previously said, are available in a variety of sweetness levels and are available in both red and white wines. Enjoying these mouthwatering sippers with dessert or as dessert in and of itself is recommended. Furthermore, it’s important to note that dessert wines are designed to be served in little wine glasses, similar to the way you’d sip on a snifter of whiskey or bourbon. (Although we must admit that we are great supporters of single-serve wine bottles that eliminate the need for a glass entirely.) If you desire a sweet dessert wine, you will get a sweet dessert wine.
Keep an eye out for the following descriptors:
Different Types ofDessert Winesand Food Pairings
While there are a plethora of wines that may be enjoyed with dessert, the ones that are featured below are the best examples of the genre. In order to avoid any unpleasant aftertaste when matching wine with sweet dessert, it’s recommended to pick a wine that is sweeter than the dessert itself. According to our enthralling guide on acidity in wine, sugar increases acidity, which is why dry wines taste harsh and sharp when served with sweet meals. With that in mind, here are many varieties of dessert wines, as well as delectable food combinations, that may enhance the flavor and overall experience of your dessert.
Despite the fact that it is best known as a sweet red wine, this fortified wine from Portugal is available in a variety of flavors ranging from deep reds to dry white and dry rosé varieties. Chocolate cake, chocolate truffles, and salted caramel desserts are all wonderful pairings for the sweetly complex redtawny port and ruby port. Serve the white or roséport wines with stone fruit, strawberry angel food cake, or lemon meringue pie to complement the flavors of the wine.
Madeirais is a fortified wine produced in Portugal’s Madeirais region, and it is renowned for its nutty, brown sugar, and burned caramel flavors. This amber-hued wine may be enjoyed on its own after a dinner, or paired with sweets like as astoffeepudding, tiramisu, or spicy treats such as chocolate truffles coated with cayenne pepper.
Known for its honeyed aromas of apricot, peach, butterscotch, and caramel, this cherished (and frequently expensive)sweet wine from France’s Sauternais area inBordeaux is much sought after. Sauternesis one of the “noble rot wines,” which include TokajiAszu wine from Hungary and SpätleseRieslings from Germany. It is prepared from grapes that have been damaged by the botrytis cinereafungus. (This fungus, which sounds disgusting, increases the sweetness of grapes while also imparting a honeyed flavor and aromatic quality.) Served with fresh and dried fruit, as well as heavier sweets such as crème brulee, cheesecake, and custards, Sauternes is a fantastic dessert option.
This fortified wine comes from the country of Spain. Sherry is often served as an aperitif before a meal; however, why not try it after a hearty dinner when you’re looking to wind down?
Fruit sweets like Pedro Ximénez are great accompaniments to crème brulee, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate anything, or just enjoyed on their own as an after dinner treat.
This delicious sparkling wine from Germany is available in a variety of sweetness levels. Its inherent acidity helps to cut through the sweetness of the dish, making it a wonderful companion to a cheese course or cheesecake after dinner. Serve a sweeter Spätlese with citrus-based sweets such as lemon pound cake or lemon cream pie if you have a sweeter Spätlese on hand. Pear tarts and sorbet are also delicious desserts that go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Another rot wine of distinction, the tongue-twisting Gewürztraminer is a sweet, fragrant wine from the Alsace region of France that has a pleasant sweetness to it. With its lovely floral and lychee overtones, this exquisite white wine pairs perfectly with any dessert that has lychee, pear, or peach as one of the major components, such as ice cream.
In addition to being known as Muscat Blanc in its native country of Italy, Moscato is an extremely popular white wine that has built a name for itself owing to the three F’s that best characterize its character: fizzy, fruity, and flowery. This dessert wine is perfect for enjoying on a spring day or a late summer evening. It is also incredibly flexible. You might serve it with poached pears, grilled peaches, fruit tarts, nutty treats such as biscotti, or whatever else you choose.
Ice wine, also known as Eiswein in German, is a particular sort of wine that is made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. Due to the frigid environment required for the production of this dessert wine, it can only be produced in Germany and Canada. (It’s also one of the reasons why it’s a somewhat expensive wine.) Consider matching the red grape type with chocolate desserts and the white grape variety with blue cheeses and cheesecake if you have the choice between the two.
It’s Time for Dessert in a Glass
Following your education on dessert wines, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to use in a variety of real-world scenarios. Dessert wines, like any other type of wine, are characterized by a wide range of tastes and characteristics. Despite the fact that there are several “rules” associated with wine consumption, the basic line is that you are free to set your own guidelines. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a bottle of dry sparkling Brut or wonderfully crisp rosé to accompany those funfetti cupcakes you just brought out of the oven.
Who knows what will happen?
That’s the beauty of wine: no matter how you enjoy it, it is one of life’s joys that makes everything else a little bit easier to swallow.
USA Wine Label Information
Despite the fact that wine labels from the United States are rather clear and simple to comprehend, there are rigorous restrictions limiting what they may and must not include on the label. The traditional wine label includes information about the wine’s maker, vintage, location of origin (for example, the Willamette Valley), and grape variety (e.g.Pinot Noir). Below is an example of an American wine label, and below that is an outline of the classifications and labeling rules that apply in the United States of America.
America’s wine labeling regulations are overseen by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), which is the government agency primarily responsible for setting and monitoring alcohol-related levies in the United States.
Bottles of wine in the United States must be labeled with the brand name, wine type, alcohol concentration, bottle volume, sulfite content, and the name and address of the winemaker, according to federal law.
- Although ‘brand wines’ (those called solely for commercial appeal) are becoming increasingly widespread, the name of the producer, winery, or vineyard has generally been the name of the producer, winery, or vineyard. In the official classification system, wine is divided into three categories: table wine, dessert wine, and sparkling wine. Table wines are the most common form of wine. However, these phrases do not required to be included on the label
- They can be replaced with an AVA title or a varietal declaration instead (by which the class is implied). An alcoholic beverage having an alcoholic concentration of less than 14 percent ABV is referred to as a table wine. NB: In Europe, the phrase “Table Wine” has nothing to do with alcoholic strength, and has traditionally been used to refer to wines of low to moderate grade.
- The AVA (American Viticultural Location) designates the precise geographic area from which a wine is sourced (where the grapes were grown). The United States contains a little more than 200 officially delimited appellations, known as American Viticultural Areas, which are located throughout the country. AVA designations are issued in accordance with the unique meteorological and geographical characteristics of the wine-growing regions they include. The AVA designation on a wine label indicates that at least 85 percent of the grapes used in the production of the wine were cultivated within the limits of that AVA. For AVAs at the county and state levels, this minimum need is reduced to 75 percent of the total. In the United States, varietal winemaking and labeling are the standard, yet a handful of the country’s most distinguished wines (e.g., Opus One, Dominus) are blends whose front labels make no reference of the grape types used in their production. When a wine is branded with the name of a grape variety, it must be made from at least 75% of that grape variety.
- Wines having an alcohol concentration greater than 14 percent ABV must be labeled with the percentage of alcohol. If a wine has less than 14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), it can be labeled with either the specific alcohol level or the phrase “Table Wine.” Vintagestatements are not required on labels, yet they are seldom missing from them. At least 95% of the grapes used in the recipe must come from the specified vintage. It is followed by the phrases ‘Bottled by’ or ‘Produced and bottled by’ if the wine was bottled at the winery that produced it, or by the words ‘Bottled by’ if the wine was bottled at a different location. It is designated strictly for wines cultivated, harvested, crushed, fermented, processed, and bottled by a single winery estate inside the confines of a single AVA
- It is not required to be used. The bottle’s (or other container’s) volume can be expressed in fluid ounces (fl.oz), liters (l), or milliliters (ml)
- It is necessary to file a sulfur dioxide declaration for any wines that contain more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide. Wines that are optionally labeled as “Organic” must be devoid of any sulfites that have been chemically added. There will be some sulfites in wines that are described as “Made with organically farmed grapes.” For all alcoholic drinks sold in the United States, health warnings from the government are required by law.
See also the wine label information for the European Union, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Australia, as well as the wine label information for the United States.
5 Types of Dessert Wine
Switch up the hefty dessert with something that will make your tastebuds glitter instead. Learn about the five primary varieties of dessert wines, ranging from the delightfully effervescent Moscato d’Asti to the dark and gloomy vintage Port of the world. Dessert wines are supposed to be sipped from tiny glasses and cherished in the same way that a fine Scotch is. Sparkling, light sweet, rich sweet, sweet red and fortified are the five varieties of dessert wines that may be found on the market.
Types of Dessert Wines
- Sweet Red Wine
- Fortified Wine
- Sparkling Dessert Wine
- Lightly Sweet Dessert Wine
- Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
A Guide to Dessert Wines
Sweet wine is made from grapes that are exceptionally sweet! In order to produce sweet wine, the fermentation process must be stopped before the yeast has converted all of the grape sugars to alcohol. To stop fermentations, numerous techniques are available, including super-cooling the wine or adding brandy to the mixture. The end product is a full-bodied wine that has been naturally sweetened with grape sugars. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of different varieties of dessert wines available on the market, the majority of them fall into five broad categories.
Take a look at all five kinds for a comprehensive look at dessert wines.
Sparkling Dessert Wine
Because of the carbonation and strong acidity in sparkling wine, it appears to be less sweet than it actually is! Certain grape types have a more pleasant aroma than others. This deceives our brain into believing that they taste sweeter as well! Consider the difference in sweetness between a Demi-Sec Moscato (or “Semi Secco”) and a Demi-Sec Champagne, despite the fact that they may contain the same quantity of sugar. Pay attention to the following terms on the label of sweet dessert wines, sparkling wines, and other sparkling beverages: Purchase the book and receive the course!
With the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, you will receive this bonus.
- Demi-Sec* (which translates as “off-dry” in French)
- Amabile (which translates as “slightly sweet” in Italian)
- Semi Secco* (which translates as “off-dry” in Italian)
- French for “sweet,” Dolce / Dulce (Italian for “sweet,” Spanish for “sweet,” and Moelleux (French for “sweet,” for some French wines)
- Doux (French for “sweet,” Dolce / Dulce (Italian for “sweet,” Spanish for “sweet”)
*Not to be confused with the terms “sec” or “secco,” which are used to describe dryness in both French and Italian.
Lightly-Sweet Dessert Wine
Lightly sweet wines have a delightful sweetness to them, making them ideal for a hot afternoon. Many of these sweet wines go well with spicy dishes such as Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine, which is why they are so popular. Lightly sweet wines are best consumed as soon as possible after the vintage date, with the exception of a few exceptional examples, such as German Riesling, which may be savored for several years after the vintage date. Expect these wines to be bursting with fruit tastes and well-suited for desserts that are fruit-based or vanilla-driven.
Consider the wine Gewürztraminer, which is renowned for its fragrances of lychee and rose petals, among other things. Fruit tarts and a Gewürztraminer go together like peanut butter and jelly.
- Gewürztraminer Alsace, Alto-Adige (Italy), California, and New Zealand are all places where you may get this extremely flowery wine with modest alcohol content: Riesling Available in both dry styles (which are popular in Australia, Alsace, and the United States) and sweeter styles (which are more usually found in Germany). A wine with a high level of natural acidity, which helps to cut through the sweetness of the flavor
- Müller-Thurgau A less common type, also from Germany, that may be found in some regions of Oregon and has flowery scents and a little softer acidity than the other varieties. Porch wine is a classic and is especially good with sausages. Chenin Blanc is a white wine produced in France. When it comes to Chenin Blanc, a sweeter flavor is more frequent in the United States, although it is also produced in significant quantities in South Africa and France’s Loire Valley region. When purchasing Chenin Blanc, pay close attention to the label because many South African and French producers produce dry versions that taste more like a dry Sauvignon Blanc
- When purchasing Viognier, pay close attention to the label because many South African and French producers create dry versions that taste more like a dry Sauvignon Blanc
- The majority of the time, viognier is not sweet. However, because it is an aromatic grape type, you might occasionally encounter it in a fruit-driven style that smells like peaches and perfume. It has a thick, oily texture on the palate. This kind of Viognier may be found exclusively in Condrieu AOP (Rhône Valley) in France
- It is also known as “Condrieu Blanc.”
Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
With the best quality fruits and in an unfortified manner, these richly sweet wines are produced. Sugar and acidity allow many of these wines to retain their fresh flavor even after 50 years or more in the bottle. For example, the HungarianTokaji (pronounced “toe-kye”) was a favorite of the Tzars of Russia, while South African Constantia was a favorite of both the Dutch and the English. The FrenchSauternes was a favorite of Americans in the early 1800’s and is still popular today. There are numerous methods for producing highly sweet dessert wines, and you may gain a better understanding of them by looking at how they are prepared.
Late harvest refers to precisely what it says on the tin. With each additional day that grapes are allowed to hang on the vine, they get progressively sweeter and more raisinated, culminating in grapes with concentrated sweetness. “Vendage Tardive” is the term used in Alsace to describe late harvest, whereas “Spätlese” is used in Germany to describe late harvest. Late harvest wines can be made from any grape that has been left on the vine. Having said that, late-harvest wines made from Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling grapes are becoming increasingly popular.
Noble rot is caused by a kind of spore known as Botrytis cinerea, which feeds on fruits and vegetables. Noble rot, despite the fact that it sounds (and seems) awful, imparts distinct notes of ginger, saffron, and honey to sweet wines. There are several different varieties of dessert wines derived from noble rot grapes that are widely available.
- In this case, the fungus Botrytis cinerea is responsible for the rotting of fruits and vegetables. Noble rot, despite the fact that it sounds (and seems) nasty, gives sweet wines their distinct tastes of ginger, saffron, and honey. Noble rot grapes are used to make a variety of dessert wines, several of which are quite popular.
The grapes are put out on straw mats to raisinate prior to being used in the winemaking process (also known as “Passito”).
- Italian Vin Santo is prepared from the grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia and has a rich, nutty taste that is similar to that of dates. It is possible to find various different types of Vin Santo produced throughout Italy. ‘Passito’ in Italian means ‘passion’. Another straw wine created from a variety of grapes, both white and red, this time with a fruity flavor. For example, Passito di Pantelleriais a Muscat-based wine, whereas Caluso Passitois a Piedmont-based wine created with the uncommon grapeErbaluce. Greek Straw Wines are made from grapes harvested in Greece. Vinsanto, created from high-acid white Assyrtiko grapes, is another type of wine produced in Greece. It is believed that Samos was the first sweet wine manufactured from Muscat grapes, while Commandaria was the first sweet wine made from grapes in Cyprus, dating back to 800 BCE. Strohwein (German: Strohwein/Austrian: Schilfwein) is a kind of wine produced in Germany and Austria. Schilfweins are sweet wines made from Muscat and Zweigelt grapes in Austria and Germany that are becoming increasingly rare. Vin de Paille is a French term for wine made from grapes. These Vin de Paille are produced mostly in the Jura area of France, which is next to the Alps, and are made from Chardonnay and old Savagnin grapes
- They are particularly well-known in the United States.
Ice Wine (Eiswein)
True ice wine is incredibly difficult to come by and extremely costly for two reasons. For starters, it only happens in outlandish years when a vineyard freezes. And two, ice wine must be collected and pressed while the grapes are still frozen to ensure proper fermentation. The country of Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine. Ice wines are most commonly found in colder climates such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The majority of ice wines are created from Riesling or Vidal grapes, however any kind of grape, including Cabernet Franc, can be used to make an ice wine.
Sweet Red Wine
Sweet reds are in decline, with the exception of commercially produced sweet reds. It’s still possible to get some excellent sweet reds that are historically fascinating and worth tasting. The bulk of these incredible sweet red wines come from Italy, where they are made from obscure grape varieties.
- Lambrusco A area known for producing a delightful sparkling wine that can be enjoyed both dry and sweet. Because it is a sparkling wine, it will have a yeasty undertone, as well as notes of raspberry and blueberry in the background. “Amabile” and “Dulce” are the names given to the sweet variants. Brachetto d’Acqui (Acquisition Brachetto) A red or rosé wine made from Brachetto grapes grown in the Piedmont area that is both still and bubbling. Famous for its flowery and strawberry scents, as well as its love for matching with cured meats, this wine is a favorite of foodies everywhere. Schiava A uncommon cultivar from the Alto-Adige region that is on the verge of extinction. A delicious scent of raspberry and cotton candy, with a refreshing, somewhat sweet taste that isn’t overpowering
- Freisa Frieda, once considered one of the great red varietals of Piedmont, is a relative of Nebbiolo, but with softer tannins and flowery cherry aromas rather than the latter. Recioto della Valpolicella (Valpolicella Recioto) Recioto della Valpolicella is a luscious, robust, and rich wine that is produced using the same meticulous procedure as Amarone wine. Late-Harvest Red Wines are a specialty of the region. There are several red dessert wines available in the United States, created from grapes such as Zinfandel, Mourvedre, Malbec, and Petite Sirah, among others. With their intense sweetness and high alcohol concentration, these wines are a feast for the senses.
Fortified wines are produced by adding grape brandy to a wine, and they can be either dry or sweet in flavor. Most fortified wines have a higher alcohol level (often 17-20 percent ABV) and have a longer shelf life once they have been opened than other types of wines.
Port wine is produced in the northern region of Portugal, along the banks of the Douro. These extremely uncommon sweet red wines are prepared from a variety of classic Portuguese grapes, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz, among others. After being harvested and placed in open tanks, the grapes are stomped daily as the wine begins to mature, which results in a more concentrated flavor. When the wine is filtered and combined with pure grape spirit (with an ABV of approximately 70%), the fermentation is stopped and the wine is fortified, this is done at a certain stage throughout the fermentation.
Following this procedure, a succession of winemaking stages are carried out, which result in the creation of the various wine types described below.
- Roughed-up RubyCrusted Port (sweet) Introducing Tawny Port, a kind of Port wine that has the aroma and flavor of newly minted port and is far less sweet than its counterpart. VintageLBV Port (VintageLBV Port) (sweet) Despite the fact that LBV and Vintage Port are produced in the same manner, LBV are intended to be consumed in their youth (owing to the sort of cork enclosure used) and vintage Ports are intended to be consumed after 20-50 years of ageing. Tawny Port is a port wine produced by the Tawny Port Company (very sweet) Tawny Port is aged in big oak casks and smaller wooden barrels at the winery, where the wine is produced. The longer the Tawny Port is let to age, the more nutty and figgy it becomes in flavor. The finest tawny is between 30 and 40 years old. wine made in the style of port sa.k.a. Vin Doux Naturel (Natural Wine) (sweet) Although port can only be produced in Portugal, numerous producers across the world produce port-style wines, such as Zinfandel ‘Port’ or Pinot Noir ‘Port’, which are similar to port. These wines are referred to as vin doux naturel (natural sweet wine) (see below).
Sherry is produced in the Spanish region of Andalusia. Palomino, Pedro Ximénez (a grape, not a person), and Moscatel grapes are used in the production of the wines. Wines are made from varied proportions of the three grapes and are intentionally oxidized in order to generate nutty aromatics in the final product.
- Andalusia, Spain is where sherry is produced. Palomino, Pedro Ximénez (a grape, not a person) and Moscatel grapes are used in the production of the wines. Three grape varieties are used in the production of the wines, which are then intentionally oxidized in order to acquire nutty aromatics.
Madeira is a type of wine produced on the island of Madeira, which is located in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, utilizing up to four distinct grape varieties. Madeira is distinct from other wines in that it is produced through a process that includes heating and oxidation – processes that would normally “ruin” a wine in the traditional sense. The end product is a full-bodied fortified wine with notes reminiscent of walnuts, saltiness, and an oiliness on the tongue. Because of the four distinct grapes that are utilized, Madeira wines range from dry to sweet, making them a great choice to serve with a meal or even as a pre-dinner drink before supper.
- RainwaterMadeira When a label just states “Madeira” or “Rainwater,” presume that it is a combination of all four grapes and that it is somewhere in the center of the sweetness spectrum. Sercial(dry) Sercial is the driest and lightest of all the grapes grown in Madeira, and it is also the most expensive. Typically, these wines will have greater acidity and be more dry, with hints of peaches and apricot in the bouquet. It is fairly rare to find Sercial Madeira that has been aged for more than 100 years. Verdelho(dry) When let to age, Verdelho will acquire nutty flavors of almond and walnut that will complement the citrus notes. Bual(sweet) It has a sweet flavor profile, with flavors of burned caramel, brown sugar, fig, rootbeer, and black walnut in the background. Although there are numerous well-aged 50-70-year-old Bual Madeira available, it is typical to find 10-year-old’medium’ (meaning: medium sweet) Bual Madeira. Malmsey(sweet) Malmsey Madeiras include orange citrus overtones and caramel to their taste, in addition to the oily oxidized nutty flavor that is characteristic of the region.
Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)
Vin Doux Naturel is produced in a similar manner as Port, with a base wine being produced and a neutral grape brandy being added at the end. The word vin doux naturel is derived from France, however this designation may be used to any wine from any country.
- VDN is made from Grenache grapes. For example, Maury, Rasteau, and Banyuls from the Languedoc-Roussillon region are typical of the southern region of France. Muscat-based VDN Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Frotignan, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Ruthernglen Muscat (Australia), Orange Muscat, and Vin Santo Liquoroso (Italy)
- Muscat-based VDN Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Frotignan, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Ruthernglen Muscat (Australia), Orange Muscat, and Vin Santo Liquoros VDN is based in Malvasia. Malvasia delle Lipari Liquoroso, for example, is mostly from Italy and Sicily. Mavrodaphni (Greek for “sweet red wine”) is a sweet red wine produced in Greece that has many characteristics to Port.
How to Understand a Wine Label
You’ve probably seen the label on a bottle of Chianti, Châteauneuf du Pape, Taurasior, or Alentejo and wondered just what was within. Alternatively, what if you happen to stumble upon a Californian red mix in the Rhône style? You can learn a great deal about a wine by reading the label—if you know how to decipher the obscure language used to describe the contents of the bottle. But don’t be alarmed. There are several fundamental formulae that can assist you in deciphering the often complicated and pompous language found on wine labels.
How to Read a Wine Label
The first thing to identify is whether the wine is from the Old World (Europe, the Mediterranean, and areas of Western Asia) or the New World (the United States, Australia, and New Zealand) (any other wine-producing region). While all labels will carry the same basic information, such as the area, producer, alcohol by volume (abv), and vintage (unless nonvintage), there are some noticeable variances between the labels of different wines. Here are the distinctions in what you may expect to see on labels from these two groups of products.
Old World Wine Labels
The great majority of Old World wines will normally simply have the areas and age classes listed on the front label, with no indication of the grape varietals. Red Riojas, for example, are often made from Tempranillograpes, with the addition of grapes such as Grenache, Garnacha, and Mazuelo. (And how could anyone be unaware that Mazelois is the name given to Carignanin Rioja?) The trouble is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a Rioja that even mentions any of these grapes on the front label, much alone all of them together.
- The most important reason for these labeling procedures is that these wines are more about a regional style than they are about the grapes themselves, which is why they are so expensive.
- As a result, while it may appear that manufacturers are attempting to mislead you by not identifying the grapes on their bottles, the reality is quite the contrary.
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- However, you must be aware of which grapes may be used (and are permitted to be used) in certain locations in order to complete the task.
- Another hallmark of an Old World label is that it may include recommendations about how to age.
- Each region’s age categorization laws, on the other hand, might have almost identical nomenclature yet be vastly different in practice.
- A bottle of Chianti bearing the designation Riserva on the label, on the other hand, has spent at least 24 months in oak barrels before spending additional three months in bottle.
- Compared to non-Riserva Brunello, which is aged for a total of four years (two in wood and four months in bottle), this is a significant improvement.
Here are a few tips to assist you with deciphering German labeling:
German Wine Quick Tips
The degrees of ripeness for Prädikatswein, a distinction that signifies wines of excellent quality, span from the least ripe (Kabinett) to the most ripe (Trockenbeerenauslese), with everything in between (Spätlese, Auslese, and Beerenauslese) with everything in between. The amount of maturity in the grapes might provide an indication of the sweetness of the final wine. On German wine labels, particular sweetness levels may also be indicated, such as Trocken (dry), Halbtrocken (half-dry/off-dry), and Eiswein (sweet wine) (sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes).
And this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of scope.
When you see two names together, particularly if the first name ends with an ‘er,’ it denotes a subregion and vineyard.
Bernkasteler Badstube, on the other hand, indicates that the wine comes from the Badstube vineyard, which is located inside the Bernkastel subregion.
German wines have their own version of Crus, like Bordeaux or Burgundy.
When you see the words Grosses Gewächs on a wine label, it means “great growth” and “highest quality,” whereas Grosse Lage and Erstes Lage relate to grand cru and premier cru vineyards, respectively. Sara Littlejohn captured this image.
New World Wine Labels
Almost all non-European wines, including those from the United States, South America, Oceania, and the majority of other non-European nations, list the grape variety on the label. Initially, New World wine labels paid little attention to the place in which the grapes were cultivated because the wine regions were all relatively obscure. Instead, they focused on certain varietals in order to tie the wines to well-known European areas. It is possible to link a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot withBordeaux, whilst a Chardonnay might be associated withBurgundy.
- In recent years, numerous non-European locations have become home to some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards.
- The grapes, the area, the subregion, and even a description of the wine’s scents and tastes are generally included on the rear label, which is more often than not.
- Take, for example, The Prisoner, which is currently one of the most popular wines in the United States.
- These wines, like some of their Old World equivalents, rely on the reputation of their names to convey all of the information necessary to a wine enthusiast.
- Again, in order to appreciate what’s in the bottle, you must be familiar with the grapes that were grown in the old European locations.
- You should keep in mind that designations such as “Reserve,” “Special,” and “Selection” do not have any regulatory minimums in terms of age or vineyard location when it comes to New World wines.
The only phrase in the United States that truly has legal significance is “Meritage,” which is a mix of the words “merit” and “heritage.” In the late 1980s, a group of California winemakers came together to form the Meritage Association (now known as the Meritage Alliance), which developed this classification for Bordeaux-style blends produced by member wineries with the goal of distinguishing them as high-quality wines.
These wines must be a blend of two or more of the red Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and the rarer St.
The red Bordeaux varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot, They are not allowed to eat more than 90 percent of any single kind in their diet.
A great deal may be learned by reading wine labels, provided you know where to look. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.