Author Archives: Theresa Cederoth

Wines of South Africa

south africaCC image courtesy of orkomedix.

Posted by Byron Crowe II on May 9, 2013.

Although wine may not be your first thought when you think of Africa, it is home to one of the top ten wine-producing countries in the world.  South Africa, a large country on the continent’s southern tip, has a rich history of wine production. The first South African wines were made over 300 years ago by Dutch Colonists using wild grapes that grew along the southwestern coast.  Today, South Africa has garnered international acclaim for the wide variety of fine wines produced in its unique, southern-Mediterranean-esque climate.

The Grapes

While white grape varietals dominated South African production as late as the 1990s, there is now a greater amount of balance between red and white production, with 45% of hectares planted being red varietals. The top white varietals include Chenin Blanc—referred to locally as “Steen”—Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.1  The most-planted reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage, and Merlot.2 Continue reading

Reading Sparkling Wine Labels


Posted by Sarah Wickham on May 6, 2013.

Wine labels.  Simple stickers affixed to 750mL of fermented grape juice.  My father logs the majority of the wines he drinks by peeling the label and saving it in a notebook with his tasting notes, often accompanied by notes about the food that accompanied the wine at dinner that evening, what he and the rest of our family were doing that day, and what the weather was like.  The notes are sometimes heavy on the wine, sometimes heavy on life; it seems to depend on the day.  He has quite the collection of filled notebooks, and I love to page through them when I’m home over the weekend.  With the labels and a few notes as an aid, he can vividly recall wines from almost a year back, sometimes longer. (My favorite note so far: “Had this one for Greg’s birthday.  Pork chops and sweet potatoes.  We really liked it.  Greg is not here.”)

We rely heavily on labels to help us understand what the bottle holds, where it is from, when and how it was made, its alcohol content, and ultimately, if we are likely to enjoy it.  The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualite (which confusingly goes by an old acronym, INAO), and the EU set forth numerous requirements for labels to protect consumers and producers.  The regulations assist consumers in understanding the quality and origin of the wine and help uphold the reputations of the regions that produce them. While these intentions are sound, the laws are often so convoluted or obscure that they are lost on most consumers, many of whom already find appellation naming, vintages, and varietals overwhelming.

I offer this, the first installment in my primer for reading the tea leaves of the wine labels: sparkling wine terminology. Continue reading

An Intro (for Dummies) to “Intro to Wines”

Intro to Wines

Posted by Lilian M. Loh on May 2, 2013.1

So you’re done with 1L and now looking to fill your upperclass course load with a senioritis mentality.  Have a Wednesday afternoon gap?  Why not sign up for Cornell’s famous Introduction to Wines class?

You might be hesitant because it is the most-failed class at Cornell.  Professor Mutkoski will be the last to deny that: he wants you to work for those two credits.2  However, these two credits don’t apply to law students.  For $30, you get zero credits towards your legal education, but you get approximately 72 ounces of wine and a clarinet-like case containing three wine glasses.  Here are a few tips on how to get through (and maybe even pass) this course:3 Continue reading

Professional Opportunities and Jobs in Wine Law

 Professional Opportunities and Jobs in Wine LawQuinta Nova; Duoro Valley, Portugal

Posted by Lindsey A. Zahn on April 29, 2013.

For students and even professionals interested in pursuing wine law, an avid question that often results is how to pursue wine law as a profession or professionally. Originally, when I first started my journey as a wine law researcher, I thought there was only one answer to this question: to practice wine law in a law firm, irrespective of the firm’s size. I also originally believed—quite incorrectly, actually—California to be the only state within the United States in which one could practice wine law. However, as I learned more about the field from both reading literature and speaking with a variety of practitioners, I realized there is a lot more to a professional career in wine law—just as there certainly are a lot of options aside from traditional practice one can pursue with a Juris Doctor. As a result, I thought an entry surveying the options with which I am familiar might be useful to those curious about professional pathways for wine and the law.

The most important distinction I must make before discussing the professional opportunities I know of with respect to wine and law is that wine law and alcohol beverage regulation are different. Wine law pertains exclusively to the legal regulation of the wine industry whereas alcohol beverage regulation usually entails wine, spirits, and beer. While the practice of each is not mutually exclusive, there are many opportunities that focus on one rather than the other. Because my professional focus is on wine law, I will discuss opportunities pertaining to wine and the law (but, because alcohol beverage regulation and wine law are not mutually exclusive, some of the forthcoming ideas may address alcohol beverage opportunities as well). Continue reading

Kosher Wine: An Ancient History

kosher wine1

Posted by Lindzey Schindler on April 25, 2013.

Judaism is an ancient religion, purported to have begun around 1400 B.C. at Mount Sinai, when God gave Moses the well-known Ten Commandments.2  Along with the Commandments, God also revealed dietary laws, or kashrut,3 which have been interpreted and expanded throughout the years by rabbis and Jewish sages.4  Many people have a vague idea of what these dietary laws consist of; keeping kosher means no pork, no mixing meat with dairy, and no eating animals unless they have been blessed by a rabbi and slaughtered in a certain way.  This can mean various things to various people: either a decision to ignore the rules altogether, deciding not to eat cheeseburgers or pepperoni pizza, or having a completely different set of dishes and silverware, Tupperware, pots and pans, and sometimes even refrigerators, so that dairy and meat have no chance of crossing paths.  But in addition to the rule not to mix meat and milk and other rules,5 the laws of kashrut also apply to Jewish wine. Continue reading

Farm Wineries: Following the Arkansas Model

farm winery

CC image courtesy of MdAgDept.

Posted by Greg Renick on April 22, 2013.

There are some powerhouse regions of winemaking here in the United States—California, Washington, and Oregon come to mind.  But winemaking in the United States is much more than a collection of large-scale wineries that ship millions of gallons of wine to consumers nationwide.  Rather, a number of “small-farm wineries” are scattered across all regions of the country, many of which have been operated by single families for generations.  These farm wineries remain an integral part of our nation’s wine production and are often subject to specific production and distribution laws.

Arkansas is one of many states whose native wine production comes exclusively from small-farm wineries.  In an effort to better understand the regulations relating to these farm wineries, I turned to members of the renowned Post family, who for five generations have owned and operated Arkansas’ premier winery.  The Post Familie Winery is the largest winery in Arkansas and was the first commercial vineyard in the state, formally opening in 1880.  The Posts still purchase roughly 80% of the state’s grape production, further cementing themselves as the premier winemaking family in the state.1  In fact, after the Prohibition era, the Arkansas state legislature turned to members of the Post family for assistance in drafting laws to make winegrowing legal once again.  It should come as no surprise, then, that a member of the Post family, John Post, assisted in drafting important Arkansas farm winery laws that were enacted in 2007. Continue reading

The Uncertain Fate of Alcohol in Egypt


Posted by Adam Johnson on April 18, 2013.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of living in Cairo, Egypt, during a very interesting time in its history.  The 2011 revolution and subsequent election were a demonstration of Egypt’s internal tension between multiple competing, seemingly inconsistent interests.  Though predominantly Muslim, Egypt is home to millions of Coptic Christians1 as well as the world’s fifth-largest urban refugee population.2  Moreover, tourism is very important to the Egyptian economy, influencing both political decisions and individuals’ opinions about the effects of conservative law.3  This all comes to a head through political tension between religious fundamentalism, commitment to heritage, and recognition of economic necessity.

Post-election, many in Cairo shared a spirit of hope for the future, while also recognizing a whole host of uncertainties.  One of the more interesting uncertainties was the fate of alcohol under this new system, and what impact a stronger Muslim Brotherhood political presence would have on the availability of alcohol.  In this post, I’d like to briefly discuss the history of alcohol in Egypt, its evolution to its current status, and then share some observations on how it relates to the still-uncertain Egyptian political climate. Continue reading

A Toast to Wine Trademarks


Posted by Mystyc Metrik on April 15, 2013.

So you’ve opened up a vineyard and started producing some excellent wines.  While your wines are aging to perfection, you might want to come up with a catchy brand name or distinctive label for your vineyard, so that consumers will know the source of your wines.  As the wines become better known, your brand reputation will grow and hopefully attract more customers.  But, how do you choose the perfect name?  What must you do to protect your brand?  This is where trademark law steps in.

First, you have to choose a name.  Not all names are created equal, however.1  Ideally you will want to create a fanciful or coined term, essentially a made-up name.  These marks are entitled to the strongest trademark protection, and it is likely that no one else will be using that name.  Next in the naming hierarchy are arbitrary and suggestive terms.  Arbitrary terms are real words, but have no inherent relation to the product or company; for instance, calling Mac computers “Apple”—or calling a wine brand “Rainy Day.”  Suggestive trademarks are those that require a little bit of effort and imagination to connect the trademark with the product.  For example, using a brand name of “Silk” to describe the smooth texture of your wines would be suggestive.  Both arbitrary and suggestive trademarks are considered to be inherently distinctive, and there is no need to show that consumers associate the brand name with your products.2 Continue reading

Cooking with Wine

cooking with wineCC image courtesy of skampy.

Posted by Nathan Taylor on April 11, 2013.

I hardly ever watch cooking shows anymore.  As much as I love all things food and wine, I just don’t see the value in cooking shows.  In fact, if I see another energetic, pseudo-soccer-mom try to sell me on a meal of taco meat crammed into puff pastry, if I have to listen Guy Fieri blabber with his mouth overflowing with the very food he describes, or watch another chef try to act handsome, approachable, or “edgy,” I’m not sure what I’ll do.

But the worst part is this: TV cooks often give the wrong advice.  After working in a professional kitchen on and off for three years, learning cooking from the ground up, I’m often disappointed to see TV cooks misleading viewers or focusing on the wrong parts of cooking.  For the sake of brevity, I have decided to focus on one aspect: cooking with wine.  And I have decided to focus on one bit of poor advice: that you should cook with wine of a quality you would drink. Continue reading