Tag Archives: nutrition facts

This California winemaker is impressed with nutrition fact boxes

nutrition fact boxes
Just 100 calories — take that, light beer.

Not everyone in the wine business thinks nutrition fact boxes are the spawn of the devil

Anthony Riboli didn’t necessarily want a nutrition facts box on his peach flavored fizzy wine. But U.S. and Italian wine regulations required it – and you know what? The facts box isn’t so bad.

“I wish I could say I had a choice in the matter, but now there are obvious benefits,” says Riboili, the fourth-generation winemaker for his family’s San Antonio Winery and its four brands. “Are wine connoisseurs going to care? Probably not. But it will it open us up to drinkers who may not identify themselves as wine drinkers? I can see that.”

The wine in question is the Stella Rosa Golden Honey Peach, a fizzy Italian moscato flavored with peach that has 100 calories, no added fruit juice and no sodium. How do I know this? It’s on the back label. (Click on the label to make the picture bigger.)

The wine snobs reading this probably stopped after the last sentence. It’s bad enough he’s writing about nutrition facts again, they’re thinking, but a peach-flavored moscato? That’s not even real wine. Cancel my subscription!

Which is their loss. As has been argued here for years, the future of the wine business has a nutrition facts box in it, even if no one in the wine business wants to admit it. If Smoothie King wants ingredient transparency, why not wine?

Yes, there will be short-term difficulties, particularly for smaller producers. But the long-term benefits will be more than worth it. Consider just one: A light beer has about 100 calories, while a normal glass of wine has 125. In other words, not all that much difference, and wine tastes better. But how is anyone going to know unless they can check a nutrition facts box?

In fact, Riboli told me that the peach wine nutrition facts box has worked so well that he’d consider adding one to San Antonio’s traditional wines, assuming any potential legal issues could be resolved about how the information could be used.

One other note: The wine was damned good – well-made, peachy, not too sweet, and fresh and sparkly. I’ve tasted much worse from serious winemakers chasing 92 points, but who don’t want to use a nutrition facts box.

More about nutrition and ingredient labels:

Clean wine: Has the Winestream Media finally figured out why we need nutrition and ingredient labels?
Nutrition labels for booze
Bud Light debuts new and improved ingredient labels

Winebits 667: Wine calories, three-tier brouhaha, can shortage

wine caloriesThis week’s wine news: The federal government resets the rules to list calories on wine labels. Plus, more three-tier legal excitement in Michigan and the can shortage continues

How many calories? The federal agency that oversees alcohol regulation is making it easier to put calorie numbers on wine labels and to use them in advertising and marketing. The TTB will change its calorie standards to make them more consistent with those of the federal Food and Drug Administration, which regulates calorie and nutrition labels for most of the food we eat. The new alcohol standards will allow greater flexibility for producers who want to use voluntary nutritional statements. For example, wineries won’t need to do a nutritional analysis for each new vintage; they can use the current analysis unless there are major changes in the wine. How big a deal is this? The Wine America trade group, which has long opposed mandatory nutritional labeling, has endorsed the TTB move. So we might see more calorie and nutrition labels on wine – always a good thing.

Slugging it out in Michigan: The state of Michigan is suing out-of-state retailers for selling wine in the state, in violation of Michigan law. The state has some of the strictest three-tier regulations in the country, which include laws letting the state tell retailers what they can charge for wine, beer, and spirits. This follows a similar Ohio lawsuit this summer against out-of-state retailers, marking an escalation in the legal battle to reform the three-tier system to make it easier to buy alcohol. Michigan officials aren’t buying that, claiming in the suit that the two California retailers selling wine in Michigan harm the “the health, safety and welfare of Michiganders.”

Where are the cans? Remember the pandemic-induced can shortage? It hasn’t gone away, reports the Washington Post. “Ball Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of cans, told investors this week that the U.S. market alone is short 10 billion cans in 2020. …” Which doesn’t bode well in the short term for canned wine, one of the biggest trends in wine, as well as hard seltzer and craft beer. The story says the largest beer and soft drink producers saw the shortage coming and stocked up. But smaller producers are struggling; one Maryland brewery says it has run out of cans every week since the end of July.

Wine, strawberry fruit spread, and nutrition labels

nutrition labels
No thanks: Three tablespoons of this aren’t as appealing as a glass of wine.

The power of nutrition labels: A glass of wine has the same number of calories as three servings of strawberry fruit spread

The biggest surprise during last month’s Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry report was not the sad state of wine in the U.S. Rather, it was that Rob McMillan, the report’s author, said it was time for wine to acknowledge the need for ingredient and nutrition labels on its bottles.

This was revolutionary. Previously, only a couple of consumer groups, a handful of progressive wineries, and cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon wanted to see the labels. To the rest of wine, the labels were a waste of time – confusing, costly, and bottle clutter. Wine drinkers don’t need to be bothered with what was in their wine, and that was was that. And stop bothering us.

But McMillan’s argument turned that reasoning on its head. Wine, he said, is the most natural of products – grapes and yeast. Why, when younger consumers care more than ever about what’s in their food, should the wine business hide that?

“We can’t be more plant-based than wine – you put it in a tub and squish it and it turns into something else,” he said. “Yet we’ve got to this point where spiked seltzers are seen as a more healthful choice because of the clarity and transparency of the ingredients.”

Which, of course, is what some of us have been arguing for years. I was reminded of the good sense of this approach when I looked at the fact label on a bottle of Smucker’s Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread, where the front label puts the emphasis on “natural” and adds “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.”

A serving is one tablespoon, and there are 40 calories per serving of this “natural” product. In other words, I can drink a glass of wine, which has about 120 calories, or I can have three tablespoons of something called natural strawberry fruit spread. What do you think most consumers would choose?

And how has the wine business missed this connection all these years?

More about wine nutrition labels:
Nutrition labels: What wine can learn from two packages of frozen onion rings
The final “nutrition and ingredient labels for wine are a good thing” post
Wine falls further behind in nutrition and ingredient labels

Winebits 622: Supermarket wine, ingredient labels, Kroger wine

supermarket WineThis week’s wine news: Sommeliers pick supermarket wine, plus another shout out for wine ingredient labels and Kroger expands its on-line wine business

Interesting choices: Vinepair asked sommeliers to pick quality supermarket wine, and what struck me as how un-supermarket so many of the wines were. How many of us go to the grocers to spend $60 for a bottle of Jordan cabernent sauvignon? And you can tell many of the sommeleirs had not bought wine at a grocery store lately, given the number of hard to find European wines they selected. Still, it was good to see Dallas’ Barbara Werley select Chateau Ste. Michelle and Houston’s Jay Pyle pick the Matua sauvignon blanc, a top $10 wine.

Thank you: Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist, says “I believe that wine, beer, and spirits will eventually be required to list their ingredients and nutritional data. I wonder what would happen if wine were to take a voluntary step and be more transparent now as a way to shape the narrative?” Which is good news for those of us who have fought long and hard for ingredient and nutritional labels and to convince to join the 21st century. Veseth’s reasoning is well taken: “We might think wine is special — and it is in many ways — but we shouldn’t assume that it is immune to the forces that are making transparency, accountability, and technology more important every day.”

Good luck: Kroger has expanded its on-line wine store to 19 states and Washington, D.C, offering – get this – some four dozen wines “selected by winemakers and sommeliers for their quality, value and flavor profiles.” I wonder: Is it a coincidence that one of the wines is the Matua sauvignon blanc? You can check out the store at this link – just click on one of the states listed in the menu. Selection is limited, and most of the wines aren’t well known. But it is intriguing that Kroger is trying something that mighty Amazon gave up on long ago.

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

The final “nutrition and ingredient labels for wine are a good thing” post

ingredient labelsOne more study shows consumers use ingredient labels and that it influences what we buy

The Wine Curmudgeon has long advocated nutrition and ingredient labels for wine, but the response has been silence punctuated by more than a few cat calls. So, rather than continue to elicit abuse, consider this the final post on the subject. I can’t make the point any more forcefully other than to report this story:

An analysis of studies that looked at how labeling on food packaging, point-of-sale materials and restaurant menus prompted consumers to eat fewer calories and fat; reduce their choice of other unhealthy food option; and eat more vegetables.

What more do we need to know about the efficacy of labels? How much better off would wine be if each bottle listed calories, fat, and the like? Wouldn’t consumers benefit to know that there are about half the calories in a glass of wine than in a jelly doughnut? Wouldn’t they feel better knowing their wine was mostly fermented grape juice instead of something like Dr Pepper – with its 250 calories, high fructose corn syrup, and four percent of the daily value of sodium?

The wine business disagrees, and just not because it doesn’t want consumers to know wine sometimes has a lot more in it than fermented grape juice. Instead, I will get emails and comments citing another part of the study: Consumers “also selected 13 percent fewer other unhealthy food options such as sugar-sweetened beverages, alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic caloric beverages, french fries, potatoes, white bread, and foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars or sodium.”

My answer: Doesn’t wine need to do something drastic when it’s compared to french fries, white bread, and sugar-sweetened beverages? When consumers think your product is as nasty as french fries, you’ve got nothing else to lose.

So read this, and know the way the world is going. And know that the wine business is headed in a completely different direction.

More about nutrition and ingredient labels:

Wine and GMO labeling
Update: Nutrition labels and what the wine business doesn’t understand
Nutrition labels for booze

Are we making progress in adding ingredient labels to wine?

ingredient labels
Why does rum have an nutrition facts label, but not wine?

Some small steps are being taken to let wine drinkers know what’s in their wine

The wine industry, terrified that we’ll balk at paying high prices for wine made with ingredients that aren’t grapes, has fought long and hard to prevent wine from carrying ingredient and nutritional labels. Even today, when almost everything else in the grocery store must have those labels, wine is exempt.

But there may progress in letting us know whether our wine is made with industrial adhesives:

Vinepair reports that another small California winery, Donkey & Goat, has added ingredient labels to its wine. It joins a list that includes heavyweights Bonny Doon and Ridge, but which is still not nearly long enough.

• Two studies found that the best-selling categories over the past four years in the beleaguered grocery store business were fresh foods, more often meat and produce, that were “antibiotic free, no growth hormones and free of pesticides or fertilizers.” And how do we know this? Because those products say so on the label.

• The NPD Group, perhaps the leading food consultancy in the country, says about half of U.S. adults are trying eat less sugar and that we check ingredient labels for sugar more often than ever. And what is the leading wine style trend these days? Sweet red wine, which is made with added sugar. But no one knows, since there aren’t ingredient labels.

More about ingredient labels and wine:
• Nutritional labels for booze
• Wine falls further behind in nutrition and ingredient labels
• Wine, ingredient labels, and what’s next