Posted by Alex Poe on February 28, 2013
Wine, as a drink, is a wonderfully complex thing. The tastes and smells that emanate from a wine glass can be endlessly debated. Wine, as a set of laws, is also incredibly complex. Everything from the wine making process to the shipment of the wine is regulated by both federal and state governments. Of particular relevance to producers, though, are regulations on wine labeling. Labeling laws protect high-end producers who carefully source their grapes—often drawing solely from a particular geographic area—by restricting which wines can be labeled with certain terms.
In 2006, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) signed the “Agreement Between the United States of America and the European Community on Trade in Wine.”1 As the name suggests, it dealt with the trading of wine between the US and the EU. One of the main provisions of the Agreement outlined specific rules for wine labels and semi-generic names.2 Semi-generic names use terms that originally designated a wine-producing region. For example, a bottle labeled as champagne was to be made entirely of grapes from Champagne, France.3 However, wine makers in America began labeling their wines with semi-generic names following the place of origin, like “California Champagne,” to suggest the type and style of their wine. This labeling practice did not meet the EU’s regulatory standards, so the Agreement now prohibits this practice in order to limit misleading labels and to further facilitate trade.4 Continue reading