Do we need more information on wine labels?

By: Bob Campbell MW

There is mounting pressure to add more nutritional information on wine labels after beer producers have started printing nutritional panels showing sugar content, preservatives, carbohydrate content and total kilojoules/calories on their labels.

When exporting to other countries, labels must comply with the label laws of those countries. That doesn’t seem to be a two-way street.

Label information required on the domestic market includes:

  • Country of origin (if made from grapes or concentrate from more than one country these should be listed in descending order)
  • Product name (“wine”, or wine type such as “sparkling wine”, of a variety or generic name such as “port”)
  • Alcohol by volume (+/- 1.5% for wine and sparkling wine)
  • Content (e.g. 750ml)
  • Producer (name and address of producer, importer, packer or vendor in New Zealand or Australia).
  • Sulphite (if more than 10mg/kg)
  • Allergen declaration (if milk, milk products, egg, egg products, fish products or other allergens are used)
  • Standard drinks
  • Lot identification (if more than one bottling)

Labels cannot:

  • Carry health claims
  • Encourage excessive consumption
  • Have special appeal to minors
  • Claim to be low in alcohol or non-intoxicating
  • Be false or liable to mislead consumers

When exporting to other countries, labels must comply with the label laws of those countries. That doesn’t seem to be a two-way street. A bottle of 2014 Cos d’Estournel plucked from my cellar does not carry a product name, sulphite declaration, allergen declaration or show standard drinks.

The EU has given wine producers one year to come up with a self-regulatory scheme that improves the amount of nutrition and ingredients labelling information given to drinkers.

In the US, wines with less than 7% alcohol by volume are required to carry a nutritional label. The alcohol level in most wine is significantly higher than that and don’t, therefore, require a nutritional label. However growing pressure from consumer groups could change that.

NZ Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan told that the wine industry was not looking at following the beer industry’s lead and that there was not a lot of real estate left on wine labels.

Do we need extra nutritional information?

I’d find residual sugar information quite useful, although it is a slightly simplistic measure of a wine’s apparent sweetness, which is also influenced by acidity, pH, tannins and alcohol level. Residual sugar and alcohol level would then allow keen consumers to calculate calories. It would also relieve the frustration of searching for a truly dry riesling or pinot gris when too few wines give reliable information on sweetness level.

The Real ReviewBob Campbell MW

Claret Confiscation, Bob Campbell MW

By: Bob Campbell MW

Some years ago I was invited to a small dinner party that included a few wine industry guests. I searched through my cellar for a special wine that wine enthusiasts might appreciate. I chose a bottle of 1970 Chateau Lascombes – a Second Growth Bordeaux from a very good vintage. I am a big fan of Lascombes but had never tasted the 1970.

I should have become slightly suspicious when the host took the bottle and placed it on his sideboard without glancing at the label. I didn’t expect the wine to have been served during the first course but became mildly alarmed when it didn’t appear during the main. Surely it must be served with the cheese? We finished with crème caramel. There was no cheese course. It finally dawned on me that the host was not going to open my wine.

If the host has gone to some trouble to match the food with decent wines I can understand that he or she might be reluctant to add or substitute a newcomer. In that event, the host has an obligation to warn guests that the wines have been carefully selected to match the food when they are invited to dinner. In Britain, a host might write the donor’s name on a gifted bottle and promise to share it at a later date. I’ve never seen that happen in this country. It’s more common to get a “thanks” as your precious bottle disappears into a cupboard.

the real review


Giving your palate a workout!

By: Winoceros

Another year means more resolutions we try our utmost to adhere to before falling back into the pattern of our past familiar ways. While hitting the gym more regularly and that healthier lifestyle you are after may not be something we can help with (although the French paradox does to some extent provide evidence of the health benefits of a glass of red wine), we can make recommendations about altering your mindset when it comes to trying new wines.

There are most likely varieties that you are adamant you cannot stand and believe there are no examples of that will appeal to your palate. But each variety is so different depending on a plethora of factors, including: the region it was grown, the way the grapes were picked, the methods and the yeast used in producing the wine, whether tanks or barrels were used throughout the process and the winemaker themselves. The exact same grapes could be handed to one hundred winemakers and the result would be that no two wines were the same.

It therefore may not be the grape variety itself you are turned off by, but the methods used in its production in the winery. If you are not a Chardonnay fan because of the effects on the wine of the barrel fermentation, you could try an unoaked variety. The fruit is the star in this case and the fresh, fruity characters should shine through a lot more clearly.

A lot of people seem more reluctant to try the Aromatic varieties: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Viognier. Perhaps the fact they are harder to pronounce means restaurant goers do not want to mispronounce their order and appear ignorant about their wine knowledge. But these are the varieties that showcase the complexity of grapes without the aid of barrel fermentation. The fruit is allowed and expected to speak for itself. There may be a lot going on in the glass, aromas that you are unable to identify, but the beauty of wine is that by drinking more and by just paying a little bit more attention to the nose and each mouthful of wine, you can train your palate to identify what each aroma is.

And you don’t have to be alone in your search for a new wine variety to try. Instead of overwhelming your senses without knowing what to make of each individual aroma- how to separate each aroma from the others- Winoceros is able to help you. We have packs of wine that are specially designed to help you try new varieties, including one that solely contains aromatic wines. This allows you to try new wines while being guided through the different aromas that each contains. You will learn some of the jargon of the connoisseurs and learn what exactly it is that you do and don’t particularly like in certain varieties. The consequence being that when you next go into the bottle shop you will be able to ask for advice while still showing off your newly acquired knowledge.

So go on, we dare you. Try new wines, different varieties. Add a new exercise regime into your schedule- giving your palate a workout!

By Emma Dodd

Contact Us



Event type*

No. of Guests*


Event Date* (dd/mm/yyyy)