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Tuesday Tributes: Best of the Blogs
Definitions—Part 2

By Charles Olken

All seriousness aside (rimshot, please), our government has asked for comments regarding the definitions of the certain wine label terminology.

Here, in order to insure complete accuracy and to keep from laughing out loud while we type, is the unedited text from our government. Be sure to read it in full. But, not to worry, we will provide a translation at the end.

Sections 105(e) and 105(f) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), codified in the United States Code at 27 U.S.C. 205(e) and 205(f), set forth standards for the regulation of the labeling and advertising of alcohol beverage products, including wine, as that term is defined in 27 U.S.C. 211. These provisions give the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue regulations to prevent deception of the consumer with respect to such products, to provide the consumer with ``adequate information'' as to the identity and quality of the product, and to prohibit false or misleading statements. Additionally, these FAA Act provisions give the Secretary the authority to prohibit, irrespective of falsity, statements relating to age, manufacturing processes, analyses, guarantees, and scientific or irrelevant matters which are likely to mislead the consumer. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is responsible for the administration of the FAA Act and the regulations promulgated under it. The labeling and advertising regulations for wine are codified in title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 4, 9, 12, 13, and 16.

TRANSLATION: We’ve got the power, and we are going to use it.

The following terms are listed by TTB in their request for comments, but they have not stopped there. If you do not see a term on the list and you want it defined, all you need to do is to say so. Lawyers all over the country are firing up their computers now. Even “Old Lawyers”, defined as those born before the Repeal of Prohibition, are getting their Smith Coronas ready for action.

Here is the list—and remember, if you don’t like the list, you can always go out and make one of your own. I would start with “vinted”, which is the past participle of the verb “to vint”. I want to know what this word means. It does not exist in the English language yet our government allows its use on wine labels.

Old Vine
Barrel Fermented
Proprietor's Blend
Single Vineyard
Old Clone
Vineyard Select
Select Harvest
Bottle Aged
Barrel Select

I worry, however, that you are going to spend a great deal of time with these terms, and perhaps some of you are going to ask your lawyers for help. Indeed, rumor on the street and in the selected vineyards and estates is that you already have. But, for those of you who have not yet jumped into the fray, I highly recommend the comments that have appeared recently on the excellent blog entitled Fermentation, authored by the Godfather of the wine blogosphere, Tom Wark.

Click on the banner to read his insightful additions to the conversation. I guarantee that you will come away with a deeper appreciation for the meanings of those words and for our government’s attempt to keep unscrupulous “vinters”—the correct adaptation of the verb “to vint”—from abusing us with dastardly bastardizations of those terms’ true meanings.


by Tom Wark
Posted on:11/17/2010 9:11:55 AM


Everyone knows there is no guarantee that anyone comes away from readilng Fermentation with a deeper appreciation of anything other than my commitment to make myself chuckle. That said, thanks for directing folks my way. Let's see what they have to say.

On another issue, woudn't you just be fascinated to see what a committee of federal employees in Washington, DC come up with as a definition of "Reserve". I'd pay to watch that discussion.

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