Nutrition labels: What wine can learn from two packages of frozen onion rings

nutrition labelsIf wine doesn’t have nutrition labels, how will younger consumers know it’s not going to kill them?

Every time the Wine Curmudgeon writes about wine nutrition and ingredient labels, people cancel their email subscriptions to the blog. So get ready to press the cancel button, because you’re really not going to like this post: How nutrition and ingredient labels save us from making stupid food decisions, and what wine can learn from a package of onion rings.

Consider two packages of frozen onion rings – one traditional and one made with onions, cauliflower, and beans. Which do you think is the healthiest choice?

And you’d be wrong.

In fact, the faux rings, Farmrise veggie rings, have 220 calories per serving, with 15 percent of the USDA daily allowance of fat and 8 percent of the allowance of sodium. The onion rings, the Kroger house brand, have 180 calories, 10 percent of fat, and 7 percent of sodium. Plus, the real onion rings are about half the price. Click on each link and you’ll see the nutrition label for each product.

The difference in nutrition? The faux rings need the extra fat and salt because cauliflower has no flavor; the fat and salt goose up the Farmrise so it won’t taste like industrially steamed cauliflower. And the difference in price? That’s the healthy option premium, in which we’re supposed to pay more for stuff that’s better for us, even when it isn’t. Check out a can of so-called “healthy” soup, and the only difference between it and Campbell’s may be the price – each has massive amounts of sodium.

What does this have to do with wine? Wine refuses to join the 21st century by making this nutrition information easily available; it has been fighting labels with down to the last bullet determination for more than a decade. But that also means that the same younger consumers who would spot the onion ring contradiction in a second will continue to think wine has something to hide. This is opposed to their parents and grandparents, wine drinkers all, who trust in cauliflower and Big Food.

Because, to the younger consumer’s post-modern way of thinking, wine would have these labels unless there was something fishy going on (or eggy or sugary or industrial adhesive-y or any of the other 60-some ingredients legally allowed in wine that aren’t grapes).

And, as we are reminded here and elsewhere, and reminded over and over, younger consumers aren’t drinking wine the way their parents and grandparents did. Maybe this could be one of the reasons?

More about wine nutrition labels:
The final “nutrition and ingredient labels for wine are a good thing” post
Are we making progress in adding ingredient labels to wine?
Nutritional labels for booze

2 thoughts on “Nutrition labels: What wine can learn from two packages of frozen onion rings

  • By Kim - Reply

    I won’t be cancelling my subscription. I one-hundred percent agree with you. I follow a Reddit sub that focuses entirely on new alcohol offerings and new cocktail ideas, and two things come up on every post: carbs and ABV. Hard seltzers are a massive trend what now, and many of these seltzers (including the very popular White Claw, Truly, and Bon & Viv) have the nutrition label, complete with ingredient list, right on each individual can.

    I read some time ago about a study that found on average, women, people with higher education levels, and people with higher incomes were more likely to read nutrition labels. That sounds suspiciously similar to the demographics that drink wine. And while this is completely anecdotal, I have seen an uptick in wines with words like “organic”, “gluten-free”, and “sulfite-free” on the label. So it seems like at least some people in the wine business recognize the trend towards “healthy” foods (or at least being more aware of what’s in your food). Now that we have wine in a can, maybe soon we’ll have wines with a nutrition label.

  • By Russell Dean Kane - Reply

    Good take on wine labeling here…

    Jeff, you know one of our pet issues on labeling also pertains to the correct and honest referral to the wine’s appellation. I think that winemakers in many emerging wine-producing state including Texas can learn a thing or two from a simple walk down the orange juice aisle in a supermarket. See my take on that: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=15592.

    Cheers,

    Russ Kane

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