Interesting developments in varietal labelling and branding in recent days. (I have read about it in Harpers but for some reason it has not been posted to their site)
It appears that the EU authorities are finally catching up with the issue of the labelling of rose, or blush, wines labelled as “White X” – White Zinfandel, White Grenache, etc.
Once again this raises the question of clarity on labelling. From an EU perspective where NOTHING is allowed on the label unless it has been specifically approved, there is no such variety as “White Zinfandel” (interestingly enough there are mutations of otherwise black grapes called White Merlot and White Tempranillo) so it cannot be used on the label.
But in reality this is a classic example of where a phrase on a label has become a brand rather than a technical content description. Whatever you think of whether these should be sold as wine or alcopops, getting rid of the term “White Zinfandel” will only cause confusion for those for whom this is their only knowledge of wine.
White Zinfandel is a recognised brand/category of wine and useful beyond the description of the main variety of grape used to make it. It is all about simple, medium sweet, fruity, probably reasonably alcoholic, rosé wine.
What will the result be? Will consumers ignore the change and buy the same wine whatever it is called? Probably, but not all of them.
Will some move on to try and discover other wines (as some in the EU probably secretly hope)? I very much doubt it.
Will it simply confirm to many that wine labelling is too complicated and confusing and turn them off wine again? That is my worry.
Whilst I have every respect for those who need to enforce a level playing field and basic health and safety, I think this move is simply ridiculous and wrong.