Last time, in Part 6 of our series on the TTB’s “Notice No. 176” – the “Modernization of the Labeling and Advertising Regulations for Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages” we covered proposed changes to some packaging and record requirements.

In Part 7 we’re covering some changes specifically for wine labeling.

The proposed updated regulations will change wine labeling practices in the following ways:

  1. Adds definitions of “brix,” “county,” “fully finished,” and “grape wine” to the regulations. “Brix” will be defined as “the quantity of dissolved solids expressed as grams of sucrose in 100 grams of solution at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.” County will now track State political subdivisions and allow for county equivalents as appellations of origin. “Fully finished” will mean “ready to be bottled except that it may be further subject to the practice is authorized in section 4.154(c) and to blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under section 4.154(b).” And the term grape wine will reflect the name change of the current class one grape wine to still grape wine but allow for use of an umbrella term when referring to still grape wine, sparkling grape wine, and carbonated grape wine.
  2. The terms “bottler,” “pure condensed must,” “total solids,” and “wine” will be amended.The current size restriction on the definition of bottler of four liters or less will be removed to reflect the term bottler will mean anyone filling containers of any size. So now you no longer have to use the term packed on containers larger than 4 liters. You can say bottled by. The term person in that definition will also be amended and replaced with any “producer or blender of wine, proprietor of bonded wine premises, or proprietor of a tax paid wine bottling house.” This will eliminate confusion in identifying those who are eligible to bottle wine. Brix will replace the term balling in the definition of pure condensed must – the two terms are synonymous. The proposed rule amends the definition of the “term total solid” by adding the words “with water” at the end of this definition to clarify that restoring wine to its original volume must be done with water.
  3. Adds proposed sections 4.5 and 4.6 which will be new provisions that indicate which wines are covered by part 4 and which wine products are not covered by part 4. Section 4.5 clarifies that wine under part 4 contains at least 7% and not more than 24% alcohol by volume. Proposed section 4.6(a) clarifies that part 4 does not cover products that would otherwise meet the definition of wine except that they contain less than 7% alcohol by volume. The proposed definitions refer those products that do not fall under the definition of malt beverages, wine, or distilled spirits under the FAA Act to the applicable labeling regulations for foods issued by the FDA. Proposed section 4.6(b) clarifies that products that would otherwise meet the definition of wine except that they contain more than 24% alcohol by volume are classified as distilled spirits and must be labeled in accordance with 27 CFR part 5.
  4. The new regulations will allow mandatory information to appear anywhere on the label on any part of the wine container, and will no longer require a front-facing brand label.
  5. Tolerance levels of 1% will be accepted in conformance with the United States’ agreement to be bound by the World Wine Trade Group agreement on requirements for wine labeling from 2007. However designation of type such as “table”, or “light” will not be allowed to have variances to take them outside their alcohol content requirements. For instances, since table refers to any still wine with 14% or less, a 14.2% still wine could not be a table wine, despite the agreement to a 1% tolerance.
  6. The 95% rule, which previously applied if you wanted to use an orchard, farm, or ranch name, is partially revoked. In a statement the TTB says it believes that consumers do not see the use of a vineyard, orchard, farm or ranch name as part of a trade name as making a claim to the source of the grapes, fruit, or other agricultural products used to make the wine. The TTB has decided that the 95% rule does not apply to trade names or brand names when the vineyard, orchard, farm, or ranch name is shown in the mandatory name and address statement on a label. This will not apply to those names that have viticultural significance. Cue the false advertising claims in 3…2…1…
  7. A new section 4.93 will define use of the term “estate grown.” The term will no longer be  treated as synonymous with “estate bottled.” Instead, The new term estate-grown may be used on a label if the following conditions are met: (1) the wine is labeled with an appellation of origin; (2) the producing Winery is located within the appellation of origin; (3)  the producing winery grew all of the grapes used to make the wine on land owned or controlled by the producing winery within the boundaries of the appellation of origin, and fermented 100% of the wine from those grapes; and (4) if the bottling winery is not be producing winery, the label must state that the wine was “estate grown” by the producing winery, and the name and address of both wineries must appear on the label.
  8. The term “ice wine” may be used only to describe wines produced exclusively from grapes that have been harvested after they have naturally frozen on the vine. Grapes that are frozen after harvesting must now be disclosed as frozen post-harvest. The terms “botrytis infected” or “Pourriture Noble” may be used for botrytis infected grapes.
  9. Under the standards adopted in conforming with the World Wine Trade Group agreement, vintage will now not be as restrictive for imported wines. US wines will still need to be labeled in accordance with a vintage for the year in which the grapes were harvested.

We’ll continue our update on wine changes tomorrow as well.