Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

What "Health" Information Should Be On The Wine Label?

If the wine contains sulfites
20
11%
Percentage of alcohol
36
20%
Percentage of sugar
18
10%
Number of calories per portion
9
5%
Naming the fining material
8
5%
Whether the wine was filtered or not
18
10%
Whether the wine was oaked or not
19
11%
A full list of all additives
19
11%
Whether the grapes were genetically manipulated
8
5%
A warning about drinking and driving
4
2%
A warning about potential addiction/alcoholism
1
1%
A warning for pregnant women
7
4%
A warning about male impotency
1
1%
Number of "standard drinks" per bottle
8
5%
Other (please specify)
1
1%
All of the above
0
No votes
All of the above plus other (please specify)
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 177

Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Sep 27, 2008 3:57 pm

Governments all over the world are worried for us - so worried in fact that they are insisting that wine labels contain an increasing amount of information as to what about wine and in wine might be harmful to our well being. What health-related or supposedly health-related items do you feel should be shown on wine labels (front or rear)?

Please note that you may vote for any (even all) of the items listed. Also solicited - your comments in general about health factors and labeling.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Shlomo R » Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:18 am

I voted for sulfites, alcohol content, and full list of additives. My reasons are:

I have a brother in law who reacts to certain levels of sulfites, and it's not pretty.

I want to know the alcohol content so I have an idea if the wine is going to knock me on my behind or not.

Considering the number of food related allergies in my extended family, I want some warning about additives.

I don't see real need for the rest of it on a bottle of wine.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Menach N » Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:25 am

i voted for
- If the wine contains sulfites
- Percentage of alcohol
- Whether the wine was filtered or not
- Whether the wine was oaked or not
i would also add and right how long was the wine aged in oak, and which oak, new,old,french,american,slovanian
these are the things i would look in a btl, otherwise its "nose & palate" time :mrgreen:
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Z Spigelman » Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:35 am

I am really not sure how "filtered" and "oaked" are a "health" issue, so I suggest that the label also contain the winemakers "suggested drinking window under proper storage conditions".

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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Doug Z » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:14 am

like most voters, i stuck to info on the product itself (alcholol, oaked, etc..) and avoided the warnings, as this is often construed as governmental interfering with personal consumption, and who wants government in their lives???? (although in these hectic days, government bailout seems to be the only way the capitalist economy is ever going to recover...hows that for irony)

as for male impotency, i would just put a small reference to shakespeare's macbeth..."It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance", as if to say...I told you so.
Last edited by Doug Z on Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Matilda L » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:28 am

Sulfites, fining material & additives - some people need to know because of adverse reactions/allergies/intolerances.
Alcohol content - good idea to know the strength.
Number of standard drinks is useful information since public education campaigns talk about standard drinks.
I don't mind a "don't drink and drive" warning.

Not sure that info about whether a wine is oaked counts as a health warning. Are there health implications from oak treatment? Likewise information about filtering - are there health implications?



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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Peter May » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:24 am

All wines contain sulfites and the maximum amount is controlled by law so this message is totally pointless.

The legal required information I'd like is actual alcohol percentage (in EU it is to nearest 0.5%), where the grapes are grown, where the wine was made and where it was bottled.

Other information about winemaking practises such as wood regime, fining & filtering etc are interesting and should be encouraged but be optional.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:29 am

The only ones that matter to me are:

Alcohol - but the information posted is often lies anyway.

RS - as an indication of whether it will be dry or not (sometimes you want dry, sometimes you don't - I'll leave the Trockens to those that like white bread)

Filtration - one that has can be significantly inferior to one that has not, from the same source. Many winemakers ruin their wines just to ensure there won't be any deposit that would result in bottle returns.

I am not worried about oak because a majority of wines will have seen some oak, and the notice won't be quantitative, which is what is needed. Now if we had a definition of 'over-oaked'....but then they'd lie just like the alcohol.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Dave Erickson » Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:46 pm

Alcohol content is plenty. Although I suppose a label that said "DANGER! This wine contains NO SULFITES and may have already turned to vinegar!" would be okay.

At the moment, I can't think of a wine-producing country that permits "additives" in wine. So what would be the point?
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Tim York » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:38 am

Three comments -

1. There is a real need to indicate to the consumer the sweetness impression given by a wine but, IMHO, it is not very useful to show the amount of Residual Sugar without also showing the acidity content. Even better, if agreement can be achieved, would be a sweetness scale, such as the Zind-Humbrecht "Indice" system or that being proposed by the International Riesling Council (correct name?), both of which take account of the interplay between sugars and acids.

2. I would love to find an indicator of oakiness but I don't see how it can be done. With some 100% new oak wines, the wood is hardly detectable whereas in others with only, say, 20% it is obtrusive. Stating the proportion of new oak barrels used, the time spent therein and the origin of the oak would be interesting information but only marginally helpful. However I would like to know whether oak chips or the like have been used, because that is a real sign of an intention to impart oakiness.

3. I would like to know whether a wine has been chaptalised or/and acidified and to what extent.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:45 am

Dave Erickson wrote:At the moment, I can't think of a wine-producing country that permits "additives" in wine. So what would be the point?


Oak, sulfite, sugar, acid are all possible additives, aren't they?
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:05 am

Dave Erickson wrote:At the moment, I can't think of a wine-producing country that permits "additives" in wine. So what would be the point?


Varies, depending on different countries and regional areas. Among others that might be listed as permissible:


Acid ureas
Activated carbon
Alcohol (grape wine distillate, wine spirit, grape spirit, potable grape spirit)
Ammonium sulphate
Argon
Ascorbic acid
Bentonite
Calcium carbonate
Calcium phytate
Carbon dioxide
Citric acid
Diammonium phosphate
Diatomaceous earth
Electrodialysis membranes
Erythorbic acid
Gelatine
Haemoglobin
Ion exchange resin
Isinglass
Malic acid
Metatartaric acid
Mistelle
Must (fresh, conc., recified, conc. recified, sulphated, with added alcohol)
Nitrogen
Ovalbumin
Oxygen
Pectolytic enzymes
Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone
Potassium alginate
Potassium carbonate
Potassium caseinate
Potassium ferrocyanide
Potassium hydrogen carbonate / Potassium bicarbonate
Potassium hydrogen tartrate / Potassium bitartrate (Cream of tartar)
Potassium metabisulphite
Potassium sulphite
Potassium tartrate
Silicon dioxide / Silica gel / Silica
Sodium erythorbate
Sorbic acid (and salts)
Sulphur dioxide
Tannins
Tartaric acid
Thiamin hydrochloride
Yeasts (selected)

The Australian Wine Research Institute has done fairly extensive research on what is allowed in the USA, the EU and about a dozen different countries. See the site at http://www.awri.com.au/industry_develop ... ?country=3
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Jan Schultink » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:39 am

% alcohol
Full list of additives :-)
Oaked yes/no
Pregnant women warning
Organic (if yes)
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:51 pm

I'm having some trouble with the choices that people are making, the major one being that every bottle of wine would have to be accompanied not only by a front and rear label but by a user's manual, the kind that comes with a new computer..

Of possible legal additions to wine there are in all, as far as I can calculate, some 360 and the vast majority of those are used for purposes of preserving (e.g. sulfite) or fining (e.g. egg whites or bentonite) and to which few would have objections from the moral or wine-making point of view. To 240 of those ingredients, at least a measurable percentage of the population may have some form of allergic reaction. With the exception of sulfites, however (to which fewer than 0.1% of the general population shows any sensitivity at all) allergic reactions to these possible ingredients will appear in fewer than 0.001% of the general population). Methinks that the vast majority of those people are already aware of their allergies before they purchase or drink a bottle of wine. As to another potential problem – some of those ingredients would make a wine non-kosher. No need though to list the ingredient for if a wine is marked as kosher it is kosher and that's that.

My objections are no less to warnings about alcohol abuse, the dangers of alcoholism, of the potentially lethal combination of overdrinking and driving, and the law in their own local as to how much alcohol they can consume and still be within "legal limits". In all of these cases I cannot help but think that every man, woman and child above the age of 12 (probably closer to eight) already knows this and the small or large print warnings on the labels is not what is going to stop them from entering into these problem areas.

With specific regard to warnings to pregnant (or even in some cases as now required by law) pre-pregnant women, I object because such warnings are little more than a form of organized hysteria that have been spread by the anti-alcohol movement and, alas, largely accepted by the general. I have written extensively about pregnancy and wine and should anyone like, I'll ask Robin to post one of those articles on Rogov's Ramblings.

With regard to male impotency – wine does not make one impotent. When it comes to moderate drinking however, wine has as much chance of making a man impotent as masturbation has of making him blind.

As to sulfites – agreed fully with Peter – all wines contain sulfites so why bother to list it on the label. That is as redundant as saying that wine contains alcohol. I am not opposed, by the way, to labels that state that such and such a wine contains no sulfites (not no added sulfites but no sulfites whatsoever).

With regard to sugar or number of calories – I am opposed. True, the wine in some way should indicate its level of sweetness but as to specifics, frankly Scarlett, I just don't give a damn.

As to whether wine was oaked, fined or filtered, that's fine if the winemaker wants to add that to the rear label but requiring it by law is little more than a bad joke.

As to genetically manipulated grapes – undecided – at this stage any possible objection that I may have to genetically manipulated crops of any kind relating more to the impact on the environment (specifically other crops and natural ground cover) than to human or animal health. Considering though that many people are concerned about this issue (for right or for wrong), I would not object to a note that the grapes were genetically manipulated.

That leaves two items – percentage of alcohol and number of "standard drinks" in the bottle. I'm all for listing the percentage of alcohol because that can give one valuable clue as to the nature and personality of the wines that we are considering. As to listing "standard drinks" per bottle – sort of silly as the impact of a standard drink will be quite different for a 5' tall, 90 pound woman and a 6'2" man who weighs 230 lbs.

The only item I think must appear on the label for health purposes is the alcohol percentage. Many of the rest are simply nonsense. Not to misunderstand, if the winemaker wants to add information on the rear label as to specifics of the winemaking process, that is their privilege. My objection is strongly to (a) governments assuming that they have in loco parentis authority over us and (b) the influence of anti-alcohol movements on those governments.

I am well aware that I may have triggered some strong reactions to certain points in my comments. All of my points are open to debate and/or disagreement, but may I suggest starting separate threads for any points that may arise as those may give way to fairly long discussions of their own.

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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:09 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:The only item I think must appear on the label for health purposes is the alcohol percentage. Many of the rest are simply nonsense. Not to misunderstand, if the winemaker wants to add information on the rear label as to specifics of the winemaking process, that is their privilege. My objection is strongly to (a) governments assuming that they have in loco parentis authority over us and (b) the influence of anti-alcohol movements on those governments.


That's quite a long list to have typed while no doubt still fatigued from your exhaustive study on wine and impotency (glad to hear the results were negative) :twisted:

I would add a caveat that the alcohol that appears on the label is largely fictional. Except in jurisdictions that tell you exactly how and when to do eveything (Germany comes to mind. The French purport to do this but largely fail to follow through), the alcohol on the label is little better than a bad guess.

I have spoken to more than one winemaker about this. When questioned as to why the same alcohol resulted in a long hot vintage as a short wet one, they admitted to me that when they'd started making that wine they had a job lot of labels printed up and then every vintage they just sent a batch back to the printer to add the vintage. The alcohol was therefor identical on the label of each and every vintage.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:15 pm

Bill, Hi....

Not only those countries that tell you precisely how to do everything but those governmental agencies that actually do test sample bottles to check the alcohol level.

Sheesh....I even know one winemaker that has been using the same vintage labels since 2002 because he ordered too many and sees no real importance to letting his potential customers know from what year the grapes came. Not a problem in his case however as his wines are as undrinkable on release from the current vintage as they were in 2002.

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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Peter May » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:30 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:
Varies, depending on different countries and regional areas. Among others that might be listed as permissible


I am having trouble here with the meaning of additives as shown on this list. Many of these are used in the process of winemaking, such as yeast (which causes the fermentation) and bentonite (used for fining) and should not appear in the finished wine.

They are not additives to wine in the sense that I understand additives.
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:09 pm

Peter, Hi....

Agreed that the above listed and others are used in the winemaking process but that does not stop alcohol, tannins, caramel, sugar, vitamins, citric acid, milk and milk powder, salt and soy flour (all of which are permitted in one place or another) from being additives as none are essential to the production of wine. Added to make a certain wine "better" or more saleable of course, but added nevertheless.

I have to ask in return - if not these, what do you consider an additive?

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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Peter May » Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:20 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Peter, Hi....

Agreed that the above listed and others are used in the winemaking process but that does not stop alcohol, tannins, caramel, sugar, vitamins, citric acid, milk and milk powder, salt and soy flour (all of which are permitted in one place or another) from being additives as none are essential to the production of wine. Added to make a certain wine "better" or more saleable of course, but added nevertheless.

I have to ask in return - if not these, what do you consider an additive?

Best
Rogov


I really don't know the purpose of all of these. The milk products I would suggest would be fining tools. Alcohol is added in the production of fortified wines. Sugar is added in Europe before fermentation to raise alcohol levels to meet legal minimums (chaptalisation) and shouldn't remain in the finished product (except in the form of a byproduct -- alcohol).

Tannins are added in cheap wines, but this is a whole separate issue because one of the by-products of barrel aging is addition of tannins, and critics oft talk of wod tannins in a wine in a positive way. We know the cost of aging wine in a new barrel will add a pound or $2 to the bottle price so cheaper wines use staves, chips or powdered tannins to get the tannin effect. Legal? Desired? Thorny question. Are the tannins gained from barrel aging an additive?

I know some wineries add acids in the form of tartaric acid, but where does that come from? Usually from deposits dropped by other wines during cold stabilisation.

I would class adding beetroot or elderberry juice to a wine to get a darker red colour to be an additive, but not blending in a naturally dark wine. I would class adding sugar to raise sweetness, but not blending in a naturally sweeter wine.....
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Re: Wine Poll #011: Information on Wine Labels

Postby Norm N » Wed Oct 01, 2008 5:26 pm

I'm so tired of governments trying to take care of me. The big problem for me is that there is so much information on wine labels, the font on the back labels is so small I can't read it (I never remember my reading glasses when I go to the wine store)

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