View Full Version : Write your congressman: Should nutritional labeling be allowed on wine?

01-21-2008, 10:30 PM
Hi gang,

I got this from Mark Beran, owner of Medovina meadery in Colorado. I agree with him that requiring nutritional labeling on wine could be potentially cost-prohibitive and is not really going to be that helpful. I'd like you to check it out and weigh in with your opinion. Do it quick, commenting is only open until January 29, 2008.

You will find the TTB proposal attached to this post.

Post your comments here (http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=TTB-2007-0062), and write your congresscritters (http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt) and representatives (https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml) to tell them what you think. I will be writing mine to ask them to oppose it.

Here is what Mark had to say. Feel free to crib off his wording and info, but *get involved and weigh in*.


Vicky - supporting the cause of the small winery/meadery and honey providers everywhere
I am hoping that some will be inspired to write original letters as well. This makes a big difference when a call for votes is held. The deadline for input is 1/29/08.

I sent a personalized copy of this letter to each of the following.

Senator Allard

Senator Salazar

Representative Udall

To find contact info for your Congressmen and Women just Google "write your congressman" and you'll find easy links to get this information quickly.

January 14, 2008

The Honorable Mark Udall

US House of Representatives

Washington DC

RE: Nutritional Labeling of Wine

TTB Notice No. 73, Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages.

Dear Representative Udall:

I respectfully urge you to vote against the proposed nutritional labeling requirements for wine. While, I believe that nutritional labeling is bad for the wine industry in its entirety, it is particularly burdensome for small wineries and will have a significant negative impact on the rapidly growing honey wine industry. The honey wine industry is not a fad, it may well be the silver bullet for the honeybee and the American beekeeper. The honey wine industry has unprecedented potential for increasing domestic honey consumption. Two bottles of honey wine require approximately 1 to 1 ¼ pounds of honey to produce. The average annual per capita consumption of honey is about 1 ¼ pounds. By increasing demand for domestically produced premium honey, honey wine offers great hope for the American beekeepers. Today there are less than 600 commercial beekeepers with more than 1000 colonies, down from over 3000 just one decade ago. Domestic honey production is less than 50% of what it was a decade ago. These beekeepers produce 75% of the honey produced in America and are the backbone of $10.7 billion dollars in value added pollination services. One third of all that the American consumer eats would not be available were it not for the crop pollination provided by the honeybee. This industry is teetering on extinction. Any legislation that stands in the way of growth of the domestic honey industry at this critical juncture could have historically dire consequences. Honey wine producers are among the smallest wine producers in America. As I have detailed below, nutritional labeling requirements could easily break the back of this delicate emerging industry.

Without the increased demand of the honey wine industry beekeeping could vanish in America. Consumes would then switch their focus from worries about the number of calories in a glass of honey wine to why they no longer have nuts, fruits, and vegetables to feed their children.

There are two primary reasons why nutritional labeling is so negative for the honey wine industry:

1. COST PROHIBITIVE The associated added costs of determining nutritional and allergen content of honey wine and the cost of producing smaller quantities of specialized labels to reflect nutritional content are prohibitive for all small producers of wine and all current commercial honey wine producers in America are small producers. As a matter of survival, producers will be required to scale back on variety and scale up on volume. The honey wine industry in America is young and fragile. The industry is searching for the tipping point product that will provide the bridge to America’s mainstream wine palate. More regulation will lead to less product diversification and a reduced possibility of achieving our collective goal of becoming a mainstream product. More regulation could be the straw that breaks the back of the honeybee and the American beekeeper.

2. MISREPRESENTATION TO THE CONSUMER Honey is a unique natural food, one that never spoils and one that has never been synthetically produced. To lump honey into a broad category of “sugar content” would be a great disservice to the consumer. Honey contains beneficial minerals, enzymes and other compounds that are responsible for its unparalleled historic role in every human culture that ever existed on planet earth. It’s simple, 6 carbon sugars, metabolize differently when consumed than does the 12 carbon sucrose that is often added to grape wine to sweeten it or to raise its alcoholic content. Bees, when fed a diet of sucrose or invert sugar syrup (HFCS – high fructose corn syrup) soon develop diabetes-like symptoms. Honey wine producers never add artificial sugars to their products.

In closing I would like to touch on the topic of sustainability. The emerging honey wine industry, should it continue to grow, is unique in its ability serve the national alcoholic beverage marketplace through 100% sustainable agriculture. It requires no plow, fertilizer, pesticide or irrigation to produce honey, and honey can be produced in every state of the union, from Alaska, to Hawaii, to Maine to Florida. An industry of small producers of honey wine, each serving primarily the state in which the honey wine is produced would minimize transportation and the associated use of non-renewable fossil fuels. Does this congressional session care to be the one that kills the goose before it has a chance to lay the golden egg? I should hope not. Please vote NO on nutritional labeling. As a compromise, please consider an exemption, without a sunset clause, for all producers of wine than have an annual production of less than 100,000 gallons.


Mark Beran, President


Colorado Honey Wine

01-21-2008, 11:08 PM
Hey Vicky & Mark.

I'll do it!

Dan McFeeley
01-22-2008, 03:29 PM
No, I think there's a good reason for nutritional labeling on wine.

It makes wine look more mainstream and acceptable. Next time you see someone drinking something cheap out of a brown paper bag, check to see if it has a nutritional label. It's ok! That way you know it's good stuff. Would you drink orange juice without the label?

Also, alcohol has been called "empty calories." It does provide calories, but because they're not nutritious calories, they're empty.

So, I want to see nutritional labeling for wine include the amount of empty calories. It's about 7 calories per gram alcohol.

01-22-2008, 03:41 PM
You make a valid point, Dan. However, I am concerned about how this will affect small producers, which is about 80% of the US mead market. They already run lean and mean. This imposes a significant cost that could have a real negative impact.

Plus, what are your feelings about lumping honey into the same group as processed sugar, which is what this would do? It was processed sugar that killed mead as a drink in the 1600's, and this may be the thing that would make that a problem again....

That is why I'm worried......

01-22-2008, 04:25 PM
I share Vicky's concerns. It isn't difficult to label the product, but verification of the correctness of the label costs a small fortune in lab fees. I don't see any inherent advantage in knowing how much residual carbs, protein or fat is contained in my favorite beverages. The amount of detail on nutritional labels is so low, anyway, as to render the information almost useless to anyone except those with special dietary restrictions.

Dan McFeeley
01-22-2008, 04:30 PM
You make a valid point, Dan.

OMG Vickie, I made the most ridiculous and outrageous post I could think of on this topic and you said it's valid? I was hoping you'd be rolling on the floor after that one.

Too much mead or too much worry. ;D

I don't like the idea of lumping honey and processed sugar in the same group. I think that in order to establish mead as a unique beverage on its own, we have to keep mead from being categorized as a honey wine of some kind. If mead is no more than a wine made from honey, you can get away with categorizations like this.

Just about any legislative restriction on winery/meadery production is going to impact small business winery operations. Mom and Pop operations, by themselves, don't look like much, but altogether they're a strong factor in carrying the economy. They should be left alone.

Obsessive compulsive regulations are one thing (bad enough for the small business operation!), but stuff like requiring nutritional labeling is just plain silly. Wine, and other alcoholic beverages, are not consumed for health reasons -- they're enjoyed either by themselves or as an accompaniment to food. Why in the world would a consumer need to know about nutrient content in wine, mead, or otherwise?

01-22-2008, 04:37 PM
You make a valid point, Dan.

OMG Vickie, I made the most ridiculous and outrageous post I could think of on this topic and you said it's valid?

Geeze, Dan! I guess it's your "air of authority." Guess you'd better be careful to label your sarcasm as such in the future! ;D

Dan McFeeley
01-22-2008, 04:58 PM
Hello Wayne --

Ouch, I get the point. Give up comedy, it'll never work. :sad2:

Got no timing, got no talent. :sad2: :sad2: :sad2:

Not trying to hijack Vickie's thread (maybe bump it a little, hope I'm not bumping it the wrong way).

I just followed Vickie's link and posted a comment.

Anyone else? Come on guys, let's all get into this act.

01-23-2008, 11:35 PM
I mentioned this thread to my boss at the liquor store where I work. She's primarily a wine oriented person (still views beer as a "seasonal" type of product (mostly for summer) and while you can finally convince her to try something different if you can prove that it will sell, she's not one to jump quickly to different types of products without some assurances that there is a market for it (It took a few times of selling out of small orders of mead to get her to be okay with ordering it regularly in decent amounts)).

Her comment on it is that nutritional stuff isn't that helpful, but what they should do is require a listing of percentage of sulfites added. People are concerned about that and some people do have reactions (whether psychosomatic or not). We have a brand of organic wine that doesn't have any added sulfites (not to be confused with the "wine from organically grown grapes" which does have sulfites added) and it sells well because some people say that they can't drink regular red wine, but they can drink that.

I tried to point out possible difficulties in this (the naturally produced sulfites, sulfites reacting with the tannins which would reduce the amount compared to what is added, etc., which, BTW is all info I got from here) but she seemed to think that even just listing how much was added would help quite a bit.

01-25-2008, 10:58 PM
Not that anyone actually cares what a newbee like me thinks, but...

Government needs to stay out of my business and do their REAL job: fix the roads, etc...As a small business owner, I'm already taxed, like, five different ways on pretty much everything so that it's impossible to actually make any headway... (thinking of moving to Nevada...)
:protest: I protest this move!! :protest:

01-26-2008, 02:32 PM
Honey, newbie opinions are every bit as important as anyone elses around here. Now, if you came in claiming that we need to use sugar instead of honey in mead, we'd shoot you down, LOL. Thanks for weighing in. I agree that gummint needs to stay out of our business, and in this case especially since it will impact small business, the engine that keeps the economy running....