The next item on our list of required label items is the alcohol statement. Ever since the early days of the history of the US the government has seen fit to place a tax on alcohol, at least the start out of it was just until the debt from the revolutionary war was paid off………………so much for that plan.
Anyway, fast forward to today when in the world of still wines there are two tax classes of wine. The first is called the Table wine tax class and it includes all still wines with alcohols in the range of 7 to 14% alcohol. The second tax class is called the Dessert wine tax class and it covers wines with alcohols from 14 to 24% alcohol. You may be amused at their use of the term dessert, however once upon a time wines rarely had alcohols even close, and let alone higher than 14% and if they did they were of the sherry or port style so were served at that portion of a meal.
The details of the requirements involved in assigning what alcohol is put on a label also are influenced by tolerance ranges. This means that what alcohol is put on a wine’s label can only vary so far from what the actual true alcohol is of the wine. For the table wine tax class that tolerance range is plus or minus 1.5%, and for the dessert wine tax class the range is 1.0%. It is a definite no-no to cross over or below tax class lines so for example if a wine has an actual alcohol of 13.2% its label alcohol could go as low as 11.7%, but only as high at 14.0%. (it must still fall in the table wine range)
Alcohol statements also are often used as marketing tools. In many instances a winery will want to give certain impressions about their wine through it’s alcohol statement. Use of a lower alcohol is often used to give the impression of a lighter style. And these days as especially for red wines the style has been pushing the envelope on very ripe and therefore very high alcohol wines the winery may lean toward using the lower end alcohols for their labels so as not to confuse their customers into thinking they just bought a bottle of port!
Next topic: Health Warning Statement.