Wine bottles and their labels come in all shapes and sizes. From the fancy premium brands, over-the- edge and hip ones, to value wines, they all have one thing in common: the information required on their label has to call to the same standards.
Wine labeling requirements are settled by law and differ across the world. In the US, wine label regulations is managed by TTB – The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. US demands are not 100% the same as in Australia, Europe, or other parts of the world, but they do show similarities.
Below is an overview of mandatory wine labeling requirements as indicated by TTB.
Which Information Is Mandatory On A Wine Label?
Your brand name, usually the name under which you sell your wine, is required on your wine label. Very often, the brand name is prominently displayed.
Next to your brand name, you can add a fanciful name or phrase to further identify your wine. We recommend checking on any additional legal requirements regarding creative names (for example, a fanciful name can not create a false or misleading impression).
Also categorized as ‘Class’, or ‘Type of Designation’. The wine type can refer to a grape or variety name such as Sauvignon or Merlot, but it is also allowed to use a more generic indication such as ‘Red Wine’ or ‘Sparkling Wine’.
Commonly, the grape variety name is used on the label. Remember, in this case, at least 75% of the volume should derive from the mentioned variety, and that you need to mention the appellation of origin on the label as well.
On your wine label, it is mandatory to indicate the alcohol content by volume. Only specific abbreviations are accepted for referring to the alcohol content: alc. and vol. for alcohol and volume respectively (the may be used with or without periods).
For wines over 14 % Alc. by Vol., you need to use a numerical statement. For wines containing 7 to 14 % Alc. by Vol, numerical reference is optional - only if the wine type has been indicated on the label as ‘table wine’ or ‘light wine’.
Little to add to that: the label should mention the volume of liquid your wine bottle contains.
Producer And Bottler
The name and address of the wine bottler or importer are required information on the label. In general, the address consists of the city and state, as registered on the permit.
Adding ‘Produced by’ or ‘Bottled by’ before the name and address to give more details on the exact activity at that location, is an optional note.
Sulfites are an almost inevitable compound of the winemaking process. To protect people with sulfite allergies, it is mandatory to include a declaration of sulfites on the label if the wine contains 10 or more parts per million sulfur dioxide.
If your wine contains less than 10 ppm of total sulfur dioxide, it is not required to have the statement on the bottle. However, you do need to prove the lower amount of sulfites with a sulfite analysis conducted by a TTB laboratory.
Health Warning Statement
By law, a Health Warning Statement is mandatory on all alcoholic beverages with 0,5% (or more) Alc. by Vol. This statement should be exactly the same as prescribed in the regulations (think of the bold font of ‘Government warning’ and the capitals in Surgeon General)!
Appellation Of Origin – Mandatory In Specific Cases
An Appellation of Origin refers to the geographic area where the grapes (or fruit) was grown. Appellation of Origin is mandator in specific cases. For example (non-exhaustive list):
• If you added a vintage date on the label
• When you claim your wine as “estate-bottled
Although optional, Appellation Of Origin is a ‘nice-to-know’ for your consumers.
The above gives an overview of what you should include on a wine label. However, we recommend checking the TTB website for every new wine you put into market.
For more in-depth information and a the list of exceptions, check the TTB website!