Archive for January, 2009
Water 2 Wine caught our eye. Because there are an enormous number of label approvals. Water 2 Wine has more than 1,500 label approvals since 2004. Why so many? It turns out that Water 2 Wine runs franchised mini-wineries in nine cities around Texas, with one in California and one more in Colorado. The website explains:
Water 2 Wine is the Ultimate Wine Experience! Juice (or “must”), is made available from more than 100 vineyards in 12 countries, and is made into wine in our custom winery! The wine is sold by the glass, by the bottle and by the batch (approx. 28-30 bottles). Wine sold by the batch is made by customers, who return about 45 days later to bottle, cork, and custom label their wine with a label we help them create! All wines contain only minimal amounts of sulfites and no histamines and are available for tasting before purchasing.
It further explains the business and legal side:
The Franchise Fee for your first Water 2 Wine will be $35,000. This fee is part of the total initial investment and includes up to 3 weeks training at the franchise training center in Austin, TX. … There is a mandatory $5,000 Licensing Assistance Fee. The path to Federal and State licensing can be rigorous and present an obstacle to opening. We will work with you to accomplish this task. … Royalties are 4% of gross sales … Total initial investments … start at approximately $143,000.
It is likely that all beer, wine and spirits labels will change dramatically in the near future. TTB has been working on new rules since CSPI and other groups submitted a petition in 2003. The new rules would require a “Serving Facts” panel on every container. This panel would include a lot more information, such as the typical serving size, number of servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Because this is a big, controversial change, TTB has received more than 18,000 public comments during the past few years. There are far too many comments for most people to review, and so we will highlight and summarize the most noteworthy comments here. The most recent proposal and comments are here. This is comment 5 in a series; to see others, click on the “serving facts” tag below.
- Diageo said milk, soda and most other beverages sold in the US include nutritional information “Yet, anomalously and without any good justification, this same information may not be included on the labels of alcoholic beverages.”
- TTB cannot constitutionally forbid nutritional information while it completes its lengthy rulemaking process. The information is simple, factual, truthful, non-misleading and “the First Amendment does not countenance this form of information suppression.”
- The government bears the burden of demonstrating that speech is misleading; bare assertions of misleadingness are not enough.
- The idea that mathematical calculations might confuse consumers runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s repeated admonition that a paternalistic refusal to permit consumers access to truthful information is fundamentally inconsistent with the First Amendment. The First Amendment has already decided this. “It is patent that the objection to including this information on labeling is motivated by rank paternalism, in clear conflict with these basic First Amendment principles.”
- Without a serving size benchmark, it would be impossible to specify nutritional information.
- Alcohol per serving, in ounces or grams, is truthful and non-misleading that cannot be prohibited without a substantial interest. “Merely stating that such information is may be confusing … is not a sufficient justification for such a draconian restriction on commercial speech.”
- Diageo applauds TTB for this effort. It’s an important step toward providing consumers with basic information, but it provides only a portion of the critical information that would help consumers decide what and how much to drink.
If you spend any time at all on this blog, or at the liquor store, we think you will have no trouble finding plenty of ornately packaged beverages. In glaring contrast, there are the products above. They are a marvel of minimalism. No art. No UPC. No singing the praises of the beer’s astonishing finish. These labels have only what TTB requires, and barely that.
Simple labels like this may be about to go the way of the horse and buggy. Sooner or later, TTB is likely to approximately double the number of elements required on a label like this. In addition to Warning, type, brand, bottler, and net contents (as above), TTB is gearing up to require alcohol content, typical serving size, number of servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and allergens. Enjoy the simple things, while you can. Malt Beverage and Beer are produced by The Beer Factory of Copley, Ohio.
It took another 400 years for spirits to acquire a fizz, and now sparkling spirits are here with a vengeance. Nuvo was early, first approved on December 11, 2006. It is a sparkling liqueur made with vodka, sparkling wine and fruit nectar, in France. Three days earlier, TTB approved O2 Sparkling Vodka. It’s currently made in England and imported by Admiral. Topless is a third example of this trend. It is vodka with natural flavors and CO2 added. Topless is made in Holland and imported by Drinks Americas of Wilton, Connecticut.
Rogue Spirits makes a Dead Guy Whiskey “Ocean Aged in Oak Barrels for 1 Month.” Is it a gimmick or a good idea? Let’s just say they are not alone in searching high and low to make innovative products. Ocean Vodka “uses deep sea water from Hawaii” according to Luxist. “The water is drawn from 3,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean … to be devoid of surface pollutants.”
Montanya Distillers is headed in the other direction. They make Mountain Rum in Silverton, Colorado, where it is “altitude aged” far from the seas.