USE OF DESCRIPTIVE TERMS ON WINE LABELS
Proprietors of Bonded Wine Cellars,
Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses,
Importers, and Others Concerned:
Purpose. The purpose of this circular is to inform
industry members that ATF Ruling 78-4 will be published
in the April issue of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Bulletin. This ruling will supersede ATF Ruling 77-6 and
will read substantially as follows:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been
asked to reconsider its position regarding the authorized use
of specific descriptive terms on a wine label which are intended
to indicate a higher sugar content for the grapes used in
the wine. Presently, the Bureau allows terms such as "Late
Harvest," "Late Picked," "Botrytis Infected," "Pourriture
Noble," "Ice Wine," and acceptable variations thereof, without
27 CFR 4.39(a) of the regulations implementing section 5(e)
of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act [27 U. S. C. 205(e)],
prohibits the use of any label containing a statement on a wine
container which is likely to mislead or deceive consumers about
the wine product therein.
27 CFR 4.38(f) of the regulations provides that labels may
contain information other than the mandatory label information,
provided such information does not conflict with, nor in any
manner qualify statements required by any regulations pro-
mulgated under the Act.
27 CFR 240.975 defines total solids content as the degrees
Brix of the dealcoholized wine.
27 CFR 240.972, 240.973 and 240.974 describe the pro-
cedures to be used in determining the degrees Brix of juice
and dealcoholized wine.
Since terms such as "Late Harvest," "Late Picked, "
"Botrytis Infected," "Pourriture Noble," "Ice Wine,"
and variations thereof, are subject to several different
interpretations, the Bureau has determined that the use
of such terms on a wine label without qualification is likely
to mislead the consumer as to the identity of the wine.
Held, in accordance with the requirements of 27 CFR
4.38(f), the Bureau will approve the use of the terms
"Late Harvest" and "Late Picked" and acceptable variations
thereof, for appearance on labels for grape wine, provided
the amount of sugar contained in the grapes at the time of
harvest and the amount of residual sugar in the finished wine
are accurately stated on a front or back label for the product.
The amount of sugar may be stated in degrees Brix, percent
by weight, grams per 100 ml. or grams per liter, but must
be stated in the same kind of measure for both the sugar
content of the juice and the residual sugar content of the
finished wine. When degrees Brix are used, the provisions
of 27 CFR 240.972 through 240.975 apply.
The terms "Botrytis Infected," "Pourriture Noble" and
other synonyms for infection by the botrytis cinerea mold
will be acceptable on labels for wine made from grapes which
have been infected with the mold, provided the labels bear the
statements of sugar content as required for "Late Harvest"
and "Late Picked" wines.
The term "Ice Wine" may appear on labels for wine made
from grapes which have been partially frozen on the vine,
provided the labels bear the statements of sugar content as
required above for "Late Harvest" and "Late Picked" wines.
Held further, except for vintage wine, harvest or picking
dates may not be stated on labels since such dates would have
little meaning due to variations of growing locations, grape
varieties, and climatic conditions, and could likely mislead
the consumer into believing the wine is vintage wine.
These requirements are effective immediately and apply
to all new label applications using the terms permitted herein.
Inquiries. Inquiries concerning this circular should refer
to its number and be addressed to the Assistant Director (Regu-
latory Enforcement), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC, 20226.
GPO 927 518