Definitions

Table_wine

Table wine

In the United States, table wine is used as a legal definition to differentiate standard wine from stronger (higher alcohol content) fortified wine or sparkling wine.

In the European Union it is meant to designate the lowest quality level of wine produced, one that qualifies for neither an appellation nor even a broad regional designation. In France and Luxembourg it is called vin de table. Similar in nature are Spain's vino de mesa, Romania`s vin de masă, Portugal's vinho de mesa, Italy's vino da tavola, Greece's epitrapezios oinos, and Germany's Tafelwein

Categories

European Union guidelines stipulate that all wine produced must fall into one of two categories: table wine or the superior Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions (often referred to as Quality wine p.s.r.. Table wine typically is not permitted to disclose even its region of production (in France the producers must use postal codes to prevent the name of an appellation from appearing even in fine print on the label) or its vintage date (though "lot numbers" which can bear a striking resemblance to dates are permitted).

In the United States, the official definition for table wine is a wine that contains a minimum of 7 percent alcohol and a maximum of 14 percent. In other words, table wine is a wine that is neither sparkling nor fortified. This definition does not define quality in any way, although some connote table wine with lower-quality, inexpensive wine. This is inaccurate as many wines that simply say "Red Table Wine" or "White Table Wine" are of excellent quality and not at all inexpensive.

Distribution

The fraction of national production classified as table wine varies dramatically from country to country; as of 2000, in France, a majority (by volume) of wine is vin de table, while in Germany only 5% is deutscher Tafelwein. Table wine from anywhere in the EU can be blended together to produce European Table Wine.

European table wines are generally made from the highest-yielding sites and vinified in an industrial manner. In the 1950s, when per capita consumption of wine was much higher, there was a need for vast quantities of cheap wine, but now much of it goes into the European Union's troublesome "wine lake." Even today it is possible in France or Spain to purchase a liter of thin, pale wine, packaged in a box rather than a bottle, for the equivalent of a couple of U.S. dollars.

Naming contradictions

In contradiction to the presumed order, exceptional table wines are an uncommon but important fact in Europe. Quite ambitious wines may be classified as mere 'table wine' if they are made from non-traditional grapes or with unconventional wine making processes. Even wines made with every measure of care (such as low vine yields and hand harvesting) and grown on sites otherwise entitled to a prestigious appellation may be denied status.

The best-known examples are the wines called Super Tuscans, which are made either with more than allowed quantities of international varieties (grapes not indigenous to Italy such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon) or without the once mandated inclusion of small proportions of Cannaiolo, Malvasia and Trebbiano per the relevant Tuscan appellation (i.e. Montevertine's Pergole Torte).

In 1992, Italy created the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) specifically to permit Super Tuscans to leave the table wine classification and become quality wine. Still, wherever legitimacy in a given appellation is stipulated by something more than a geographic boundary, one may find producers willing to ignore limitations in pursuit of quality.

In common usage vin de table (often called vin ordinaire) is the 4th and lowest ranked wine under the French wine classification. These wines are the cheapest to buy and to make (they can be bought from €0,80), and are generally drunk accompanying a midday meal or used to make wine-based cocktails.

Notes

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