This 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.