Understanding U.S. Wine Laws – Know what you’re drinking!!!

What are wine laws?
Wine laws can create a higher standard and quality of wine production and tells you what Appellation the wine comes from. Appellation is just a fancy word for a wine growing area. Wine laws differ from country to country.

U.S. wine laws are known as the A.V.A. or American Viticultural Area.

Why are wine laws important to understand?
Knowing wine laws can help you to buy good wines or know what exactly you’re drinking. In the day and age of being conscious of where our food comes from, it’s pretty important to know where things come from. It can help you to learn where real quality grapes or wine comes from.

What countries have wine laws?
Most wine producing countries have their own system in place. While countries don’t have the same laws, they respect each other’s system in their respective countries as to not mess with the integrity of their wine.

Wine laws don’t always pertain to all wine, but rather to distinguish higher quality wines from wines that are maybe just a blend of many different grapes. U.S. wine laws for example have minimum percentage law(75% minimum) in order to allow wineries to say their wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc…

Say a winery makes a red wine that is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Malbec. The laws prohibit that winery from calling the wine simply Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery would have to label it a blend and list the percentages on the label.

Another law in place is one that keeps the integrity of the appellation. Example: Napa Cabernet from Rutherford. Rutherford is a growing area within Napa Valley. In order for a winery to put the name Rutherford on their label, the grapes must be from Rutherford.

The same law would disallow a winery from putting “Napa Red Wine” on the label unless the grapes came from Napa Valley. If you see a wine label that simply says California Blend or California Red Blend that means the grapes likely come from many different sources from around California.

Do wine laws mean it will be a good wine?
No, it doesn’t mean the wine will better, but wine laws can let you know that it’s adhering to certain standards. European wine laws are a bit more complex and go deeper than U.S. wine laws, but I will get into that later.

While it doesn’t guarantee a good wine, wine laws let you know what exactly you’re drinking.

Click Here for Part 2 of Understanding Wine Laws: A Quick Breakdown

Yours Truly,
-The Modern Somm

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