Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:10 pm

Any opinions?

Alcohol Labeling Proposal Sets Off a Brawl
By Cindy Skrzycki
Tuesday, January 22, 2008; Page D01


After more than 30 years of deliberation, federal regulators have proposed requiring the alcoholic-beverage industry to put nutrition and alcohol-content labels on their containers, setting off the equivalent of a barroom brawl among makers of beer, wine and liquor.

Pushed by consumer groups, the U.S. Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for the first time would mandate disclosure of how many carbohydrates and calories and how much protein and fat alcoholic drinks contain, as food labels do. How and where to disclose alcohol content is generating heat.

Read the full story in The Washington Post
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washinton Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:23 pm

JCollins wrote:Any opinions?

Alcohol Labeling Proposal Sets Off a Brawl


"J", welcome to the forum! Thanks for a provocative post.

For what it's worth, I touched on this issue in a 30 Second Wine Advisor essay last year:
Ingredient labeling
in which I opined, among other things, "The view from here is that consumers have a right to know what's in our wine, and quality producers making natural wines have nothing to fear from ingredient labeling."

One housekeeping request: Due to copyright concerns, we discourage posting the entire content of news articles on the forum. It's generally better to post a paragraph or two (or a paraphrased summary) with a link to the rest.

Do you mind if I edit your post to accomplish this? I assume we can find a link to the Post story online.
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17109
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Washinton Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:27 pm

No problem! Thanks for the welcome.

here's the link to the article . . .
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01895.html

I would personally love to have this type of information on wine. I hate having to surf the internet to find out the calories. I'm not often on a diet but when I am, I like to have a drink or two or three, and not blow it.
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washinton Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:34 pm

Great article! Very informative.

About the small wine producers, don't they get a federal tax break already? I know they don't want to label this type of information but I don't think it would put them out of business. I believe they already get a very large break on their federal excise taxes. I have been reading the comments submitted to the Government on the issue and don't understand why the small producers are crying so much. I may comment on the rulemaking as a wine consumer who wants to see this type of information on labels. The article said they were still accepting comments until this Sunday.
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Peter May » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:45 pm

No doubt such labelling will happen as part of the anti-alcohol movement that is gathering pace.

But mankind has been drinking wine forever without such information being needed, and I don't see it is needed now.

Why on earth wine needs labels telling people that drinking too much alcohol will make them fat and drunk, I do not know.

Better would be making it legal to put such information on wine labels - i.e. making it optional. As well as allowing winelabels to have information on teh postive effects of drinking wine.

Those that feel they'd get a competitive advantage by putting calorific etc info on the label then could do so, and let the market decide on the need for it.
User avatar
Peter May
Pinotage Advocate
 
Posts: 2144
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:24 pm
Location: Snorbens, England

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:56 pm

It is already optional. Beer folks have been placing information on calories, carbs, fat and protein on their labels for years. Most light beers have this information.

I don't see why wine should be treated differently than any other food or beverage product just because a little acohol is present. I'm not opposed to health statements either, if they are factual, why not? As a consumer, the more facts I have, the better. JMO
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:57 pm

Peter May wrote:Better would be making it legal to put such information on wine labels - i.e. making it optional. As well as allowing winelabels to have information on teh postive effects of drinking wine.

I wouldn't really object to this approach, Peter, but I'm not sure I understand why the industry is so dead-set against it.

I would turn things around and argue it like this: The strongest argument I can think of to get in the alcohol-fascists' faces is that wine is a food beverage. Wine (and beer) are in fact historic foodstuffs, healthful in moderation and very much a part of the mealtime experience since the Bronze Age or before. Separating them out from food is bad. Including them in with food is good.

But foodstuffs ARE subject to ingredient labeling. If wine is food, then we shouldn't resist it being treated as food for regulatory purposes. That's far better than the current practice of having it singled out for special attention alongside tobacco and firearms, as we do in the US.

This is a change that it's fair to embrace, it seems to me.
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17109
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:02 pm

I have one major objections: it will slow internet wine board traffic.

We get all kinds of discussions on how many calories in a glass of wine, what are all the "ingredients", etc. It would be a shame to lose that content. :wink:

The more serious issue to me is that some less informed folks will be put off a glass of wine because they see something other than grape juice on an ingredient label. There are things that need to be used to make wine, and there's no way to explain all of that on a label.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:05 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I have one major objections: it will slow internet wine board traffic.

D'oh! Get me my Congressman!

The more serious issue to me is that some less informed folks will be put off a glass of wine because they see something other than grape juice on an ingredient label. There are things that need to be used to make wine, and there's no way to explain all of that on a label.

I'm troubled, philosophically, by the "consumers are too stupid to understand it" argument.

I also think it fails the real-world test. If you clicked through to my Wine Advisor article on labeling, you might have noticed that I used a box of saltines as an analogy. This is a direct quote from the end of a box of Zesta:

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacinimide, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [Vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid), vegetable oil [soybean, cottonseed, hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed), partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil with IBHQ and citric acid for freshness], salt, contains two percent or less of corn syrup, leavening [baking soda, yeast], malt extract, dextrose, soy lecithin), all adding up to 60 calories in a 5-cracker "serving."

I just don't see any real evidence that fear of soy lecithin or even IBHQ has done much to slow the market for soda crackers. ;)
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17109
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:08 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:I have one major objections: it will slow internet wine board traffic.

D'oh! Get me my Congressman!

The more serious issue to me is that some less informed folks will be put off a glass of wine because they see something other than grape juice on an ingredient label. There are things that need to be used to make wine, and there's no way to explain all of that on a label.

I'm troubled, philosophically, by the "consumers are too stupid to understand it" argument.

I also think it fails the real-world test. If you clicked through to my Wine Advisor article on labeling, you might have noticed that I used a box of saltines as an analogy. This is a direct quote from the end of a box of Zesta:

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacinimide, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [Vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid), vegetable oil [soybean, cottonseed, hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed), partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil with IBHQ and citric acid for freshness], salt, contains two percent or less of corn syrup, leavening [baking soda, yeast], malt extract, dextrose, soy lecithin), all adding up to 60 calories in a 5-cracker "serving."

I just don't see any real evidence that fear of soy lecithin or even IBHQ has done much to slow the market for soda crackers. ;)


Thankfully people are even less intelligent than I thought - they don't read ingredient labels! :twisted:
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:13 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Peter May wrote:Better would be making it legal to put such information on wine labels - i.e. making it optional. As well as allowing winelabels to have information on teh postive effects of drinking wine.

I wouldn't really object to this approach, Peter, but I'm not sure I understand why the industry is so dead-set against it.

I would turn things around and argue it like this: The strongest argument I can think of to get in the alcohol-fascists' faces is that wine is a food beverage. Wine (and beer) are in fact historic foodstuffs, healthful in moderation and very much a part of the mealtime experience since the Bronze Age or before. Separating them out from food is bad. Including them in with food is good.

But foodstuffs ARE subject to ingredient labeling. If wine is food, then we shouldn't resist it being treated as food for regulatory purposes. That's far better than the current practice of having it singled out for special attention alongside tobacco and firearms, as we do in the US.

This is a change that it's fair to embrace, it seems to me.


Well said! Wine is most certainly food and as with most foods, if consumed in moderation is quite healthy for you. I would hope that the Wine industry would accept these labels with open arms. I saddens me and concerns me that they have not. I also agree that consumers are much more savvy with respect to labels than they once were. Consumers are accustomed to reading labels. Heck, over 90 percent of our population has at one time been on a diet. For these folks and those with special health concerns such as diebetics, this type of information is crucial.

I seriously do not believe that wine consumers believe that wine is only a product of grape juice and yeast. Give them a little credit. Give them more information so they can make choices based on education.
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:22 pm

JCollins wrote:Well said! Wine is most certainly food and as with most foods, if consumed in moderation is quite healthy for you.


Ah but there's the rub. While Triscuits and Quaker Oatmeal get to proclaim their health benefits on the labels (in HUGE FONT SIZES) I will guarantee you that by the time any labeling requirements for wine get through the government there will be zero allowance for health benefits on a wine label, only extra warnings about the EVILS OF DEMON ALCOHOL.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Peter May » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:27 pm

JCollins wrote: I seriously do not believe that wine consumers believe that wine is only a product of grape juice and yeast. .


What do you think are the ingredients?
User avatar
Peter May
Pinotage Advocate
 
Posts: 2144
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:24 pm
Location: Snorbens, England

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:31 pm

Peter May wrote:
JCollins wrote: I seriously do not believe that wine consumers believe that wine is only a product of grape juice and yeast. .


What do you think are the ingredients?


Don't forget the oak, SO2...
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:40 pm

Peter May wrote:
JCollins wrote: I seriously do not believe that wine consumers believe that wine is only a product of grape juice and yeast. .


What do you think are the ingredients?



As I am sure you well know, wines include various treating and fining materials which if ingredient listing were required would have to be disclosed to the consumer.
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:47 pm

JCollins wrote:

As I am sure you well know, wines include various treating and fining materials which if ingredient listing were required would have to be disclosed to the consumer.


"J",

The thing that keeps getting me is the "tone" of your posts, as if there is some level of a cover up in the wine industry. Even your use of "would have to be disclosed to the consumer" implies that you think they are hiding something.

I just have to ask if you have some additional agenda beyond dieting.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:02 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
JCollins wrote:

As I am sure you well know, wines include various treating and fining materials which if ingredient listing were required would have to be disclosed to the consumer.


"J",

The thing that keeps getting me is the "tone" of your posts, as if there is some level of a cover up in the wine industry. Even your use of "would have to be disclosed to the consumer" implies that you think they are hiding something.

I just have to ask if you have some additional agenda beyond dieting.



Well, I don't know what to think. More transparent labels are a good thing. I am just shocked at what I read on the comments to the Government from the wine industry. Saddened really. I just don't understand. Why not? As a consumer, the more information, the better. Also, my husband is allergic to eggs and knowing if the wine was fined with egg whites would be benefical to me too. JMO However, I just read that the Government's proposal is not proposing ingredients to be listed. Only calories and nutrients. Silly if you ask me not to include ingredients.
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:20 pm

"J",

Your comment about allergies helps me to put things in perspective. I can fully understand your concern about that.

If I can speak for the wineries (even though I know I cannot), I bet many are afraid of additional warning labels taking over their product. I think of the "Warning: May contain nuts" or other such things getting plastered all over the bottle. An ingredient list would not get through the government unscathed. I know I am cynical about that, but it's true.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 22102
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:40 pm

JCollins wrote:As I am sure you well know, wines include various treating and fining materials which if ingredient listing were required would have to be disclosed to the consumer.

That one's a little more iffy. Since fining materials fall out as sediment and the wine is racked (siphoned) away from them, only molecular amounts remain in the finished bottled wine.

If wine is treated exactly as food, then ingredients of this type, generally recognized as safe, should have to be listed only if they exceed parts per million amounts set by regulation.
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17109
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Peter May » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:55 pm

JCollins wrote:
Peter May wrote:
JCollins wrote: I seriously do not believe that wine consumers believe that wine is only a product of grape juice and yeast. .


What do you think are the ingredients?



As I am sure you well know, wines include various treating and fining materials which if ingredient listing were required would have to be disclosed to the consumer.


I know that various treatments are used in making wine -- but the finished wine does not include them.

Are you asking for a full report of what is used in making wine, or just what is in the bottle of finished wine?

I can understand that vegetarians and vegans might like to know if issinglass, casein or egg-whites are used in making a particular wine, but should they be listed if no traces remain in the finished wine
User avatar
Peter May
Pinotage Advocate
 
Posts: 2144
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:24 pm
Location: Snorbens, England

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Jon Peterson » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:19 pm

My first thought is that the more wine is treated like food, even down to the content labels - the better. My second thought - well that'll take a while to develop but I think tomorrow's lunch will be up on Capitol Hill doing some fact finding.
I just wanted to inform you that I find you to be very attractive. Thank you and have a nice day.
User avatar
Jon Peterson
The Court Winer
 
Posts: 2980
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: The Blue Crab State

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby JCollins » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:20 pm

I think, but I am not sure, that the FDA requires all ingredients to be listed. I don't remember where I got this from but I was told at one time that was "what went into the mixing bowl" not what was in the final product.

I also believe there is some argument over whether or not traces of fining agents remain in the final product. Of course, traces must remain but at what levels? What level will ellicit an allergenic response? I can tell you only from personal experience, my husband swares that traces remain. He will not drink any wine unless we call and ask what fining agents were used. He has had reactions in the past we can only assume were as a result of the fining agents used. We have had good luck when we have called wineries in the past for the information. However, it is a pain to worry about when it could be listed on the label. JMO
JCollins
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Lizbeth S » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:36 pm

Hi J and welcome! Re the calories question, I've read that champagne/sparkling wine has on average 65-70 cal/glass, white wine is about 70-75/glass, and red wine 80-90/glass. I should probably mention that a glass is 3.5 oz. So in sum, a glass or two (or even three) is not going to kill your diet! :D
User avatar
Lizbeth S
Wine geek
 
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:41 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Washington Post Reports New Label Being Considered for Wines

Postby Hoke » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:00 pm

He has had reactions in the past we can only assume were as a result of the fining agents used.


Why is that the only thing you can assume, J?

I talk to people all the time....and I mean allllll the time---who can only assume that because they are dehydrated and nauseous and get headaches after a long night of drinking wine, they must be allergic to sulfites. They seem never to "only assume" the reaction might be from histamines or from simply drinking too much. And that is because they see the "Contains Sulfites" warning on a label----and think they can only assume it must then be sulfites that causes the problem.

Does your husband have other allergies or allergic reactions? Does he take antihistamines. Has he determined, beyond just thinking "Oh, I guess that must be it", that he has reactions to fining agents? If he is as prone to allergic reactions as you seem to be indicating, I'd think he want to go see an allergist specialist.

(And just for the info, I'm not opposed to ingredient labelling. But like David I've become necessarily cynical when the gov starts to get involved where wine is concerned. Sad to say, it won't be treated like "other food". Never has been; never will.)
User avatar
Hoke
Achieving Wine Immortality
 
Posts: 10443
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am
Location: Portland, OR

Next

Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests