Wine Label Information USA Wine Labels

USA Wine Label Information

Wine labels from the United States are relatively straightforward and easy to understand, but there are strict laws governing what they must and must not show. The typical label shows the wine's producer, vintage, region of origin (e.g.?Willamette Valley) and grape variety (e.g.?Pinot Noir). Below is an example of an American wine label, and below that an overview of US wine classifications and labeling laws. For comprehensive information on the United States wine regions and their wines, see?USA.

US Wine Label

American wine labeling laws are managed by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), the government bureau principally responsible for setting and monitoring alcohol-related taxes. By law, bottles of United States wine must be marked with a brand name, wine type, alcohol content, bottle volume, sulfite content, and the producer's name and address.

  • Brand name?is traditionally the name of the producer, winery or vineyard, although 'brand wines' (those named purely for marketing appeal) are now increasingly common.
  • Wine type (class)?is broken down into the official categories 'table wine', 'dessert wine' and 'sparkling wine'. However, these terms do not have to appear on the label themselves; they can be substituted with an AVA title or varietal statement (by which the class is implied). Table wine is defined as grape wine with an alcoholic content less than 14% ABV. NB: in Europe, the term 'Table Wine' has nothing to do with alcoholic strength, and has traditionally denoted wines of basic quality.
    • AVA (American Viticultural Area)?indicates the specific geographical area a wine comes from (where the grapes were grown). The United States has just over 200 officially delimited appellations, known as American Viticultural Areas. AVA titles are granted according to the particular climatic and geographical features of the wine-growing areas they cover. For an AVA title to appear on a wine's label, at least 85% of the grapes must have been grown within the boundaries of that AVA. For county- and state-level AVAs, this minimum requirement falls to 75%.
    • Varietal?winemaking and labeling are the norm in the United States, although a number of the country's most prestigious wines (e.g.?Opus One,?Dominus) are blends whose front labels do not mention grape varieties at all. Wines labeled with the name of a grape variety must be made from at least 75% of the specified grape.
  • Alcohol content?must be explicitly stated for wines with over 14% ABV. Wines with less than 14% ABV may be labeled with either their precise alcohol content or with 'Table Wine'.
  • Vintage?statements are not mandatory, but are rarely omitted from labels. At least 95% of the grapes used must be from the stated vintage.
  • Name and address?of the bottler or producer is preceded by the words 'Bottled by', or 'Produced and bottled by' if the wine was bottled at the winery which made it. The optional statement 'Estate-bottled' is reserved exclusively for wines grown, harvested, crushed, fermented, processed and bottled by a single winery estate, within the boundaries of a single AVA.
  • Volume?of the bottle (or other container) may be stated in fluid ounces (fl.oz), liters (l) or milliliters (ml).
  • Sulfite declaration?is a requirement for all wines containing more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide. Wines optionally labeled as 'Organic' must be free of any artificially added sulfites. Those labeled as 'Made with organically grown grapes' will have some sulfites.
  • Government health warnings?are a mandatory requirement for all alcoholic beverages on sale in the United States.

See also wine label information for the?European Union,?France,?Italy,?Spain,?Germany,?Austria?and?Australia.