Many US wineries producing traditional styled wines are a (legal verbiage) loss when naming their wines in a manner in which wine consumers can easily recognize the type or style of wine produced.
This is due to restrictions that wine labeling regulations place on wine grape products, and their bottle labels, and illustrations. One of My pet peeves is Dessert Wine (What’s that?!?! many US consumers ask) has been named various alternative nautical terms such as starboard, larboard, seeking alternatives to the prohibited “port”.
The root of the problem is the “Standards of Identity” agreement between the U.S. and the European Union governing the use of “semi-generic” wine names such as Port, Chablis, Champagne.
Did I mention that our winery is (ironically) located on “Chablis Road” if I listed our address instead of website on the labels the Feds would probably prohibit “Chablis.”
Wineries that used the restricted product prior to the standards of identity agreements are “grandfathered” (may continue to use the names) but wineries offering products after the agreement implementation dates are out of luck.
The agreement signed by the United States and the European Community (EC) on March 10, 2006 changed the legal status of 17 designations of wine.
What are some of the restricted names?
Along with Claret, 16 other semi-generic wine names are covered under the standards agreement: Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Hock, Malaga, Marsala, Madeira, Moselle, Port, Retsina, Rhine wine, Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Sherry and Tokay.
Again, a “grandfather” provision allows wineries already using the terms before the 2006 date, e.g. Claret, to continue to do so, but the naming must must now conform to “the trade understanding of such class and type” and any Johnny-come-lately wineries are simply out of luck…
Shared below from Wikipedia provides additional information on wine classification.
Classification of wine
By vinification methods
Wines may be classified by vinification methods. These include classifications such as sparkling, still, fortified, rosé, and blush. The color of wine is not determined by the juice of the grape, which is almost always clear, but rather by the presence or absence of the grape skin during fermentation. Red wine is made from red (or black) grapes, but its red color is bestowed by the skin being left in contact with the juice during fermentation. White wine can be made from any color of grape as the skin is separated from the juice during fermentation. A white wine made from a very dark grape may appear pink or ‘blush’. Rosé wines are a compromise between reds and whites — the skin of red grapes is left in for a short time during fermentation.
Sparkling wines, such as champagne, are those with carbon dioxide, either from fermentation or added later. They vary from just a slight bubbliness to the classic Champagne. To have this effect, the wine is fermented twice, once in an open container to allow the carbon dioxide to escape into the air, and a second time in a sealed container, where the gas is caught and remains in the wine. Wines that gain their carbonation from the traditional method of bottle fermentation are called Méthode Traditionnelle wines in France. Other international denominations of sparkling wine include Sekt or Schaumwein (Germany), Cava (Spain), Spumante or Prosecco (Italy).
Fortified wines are often sweeter, always more alcoholic wines that have had their fermentation process stopped by the addition of a spirit, such as brandy*. They include:
* Pointing out a nuance/correction here – Sherry is fortified with brandy after fermentation has been completed. Port may be fortified partway through the fermentation process, leaving and protecting residual sugars.
Brandy is a distilled wine. Grappa is a dry colorless brandy, distilled from fermented grape pomace, the pulpy residue of grapes, stems and seeds that were pressed for the winemaking process.
Uses of wine
Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. Red, white and sparkling wines are the most popular, and are also known as light wines, because they only contain approximately 10-14% alcohol. The aperitif and dessert wines contain 14-20% alcohol, and are fortified to make them richer and sweeter than the light wines. Although there are many classes of dinner wines, they are all used under six specific classes, as follows:
- aperitif: (or better known as “appetizer wines”): include dry sherry, Madeira, Vermouth, and other flavored wines, made to be consumed before eating a meal.
- red dinner wines: These wines are usually dry and go extremely well with such main-course dishes as red meats, spaghetti, and highly-seasoned foods. They should be served at a cool room temperature to bring out their aroma. The most popular red dinner wines are claret, Burgundy, Chianti, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pink dinner wines (also called “rose wines”), a special class of red wines, can be served with almost any dish, but are considered best with cold meats, pork, and curries.
- white dinner wines: Usually either very dry or rather sweet, these wines should be served chilled, and go well with white meats, seafood, and fowl. They include Rhine wines, Chablis, sauterne, and wine made from different grape varieties such as Chardonnay and White Riesling.
- sparkling wines: Usually served at any meal with any course, these wines are most frequently served at banquets, formal dinners and weddings. The most common sparking wines are Champagne (white) and sparkling Burgundy (red).
- table wine: Table wine is not bubbly, although some have a very slight carbonation, the amount of which is not enough to disqualify them as table wines. According to U.S. standards of identity, table wines may have an alcohol content that is no higher than 14 percent. In Europe, light wine must be within 8.5 percent and 14 percent alcohol by volume. As such, unless a wine has more than 14 percent alcohol, or it has bubbles, it is a table wine or a light wine.
- dessert wines: Ranging from medium-sweet to sweet, these wines are classified under dessert wines only because they are sometimes served with desserts. Among these are port wine, sweet sherry, Tokay, and muscatel.
The labels on certain bottles of wine suggest that they need to be set aside for an hour before drinking (ie. to “breathe”), while other wines are recommended to be drunk as soon as they are opened.
‘Breathing’ means allowing a wine to aerate before drinking. Generally, younger wines benefit from some aeration, while older wines do not. The word, “younger”, refers to the first one third of a wine’s life, which varies from wine type to wine type and from wine to wine. For example, most white wines, “younger” means up to one to two years, while for red wines, they could mean as little as a few months, for a Beaujolais Nouveau, up to ten years for a hearty Barossa Shiraz. “Older”, on the other hand, refers to the last one third of their lives.
During aeration, the exposure of younger wines to air often “relaxes” the flavors and makes them taste slightly smooth and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor.
Wines that are older generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration. Breathing, however, does not benefit all wines, and should not therefore be taken to the extreme. In general, wine should be tasted as soon as it is opened to determine how long it may be aerated, if at all. It should then be tasted every 15 minutes until the wine is, according to individual preference, ready to drink. As a general rule, younger white wines normally require no more than 15-30 minutes of aeration while younger red wines should be no more than 30-60 minutes. If in doubt, it is better to err on the side of too little aeration than too much.
Religious Ceremonial Use
Wine is also used in religious ceremonies in many cultures and the wine trade is of historical importance for many regions. The New Testament even claims that Jesus’ very first miracle was to turn water into wine (John 2:1-11).
Some wines are produced commercially as cooking wine, which is considered by many to be extremely salty, and of a much lower grade than even box wine. The salt s added to extend the shelf life oa an occasionally used cooking wine. Cooking wines are convenient for cooks who use wine as an ingredient for cooking only rarely.
However, they are not widely used by professional chefs, as they believe the added preservative significantly lowers the quality of the wine and subsequently the food made with that wine. Most professional chefs prefer to use inexpensive but drinkable wine for cooking, and this recommendation is given in many professional cooking textbooks as well as general cookbooks. Many chefs believe there is no reason to use a low quality cooking wine, for cooking, when there are quality drinkable wines available at very low prices.
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