Semi-generic

From Academic Kids

Semi-generic is a legal term used in by the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to refer to wine designations that have essentially no meaning. The majority of these were taken from famous European wine-producing regions. Wines sold in the U.S. labeled with semi-generic terms have little or no relation to their namesakes. Sometimes the color is not even the same.

Recent problems

Since the last twenty years of the 20th century, with the popularity of varietal labeling based on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), semi-generic names have fallen somewhat out of use. They are typically only used on inexpensive wines sold in jugs or cartons.

The use of these names is a bone of contention both inside and outside the U.S. Through trade agreements, the European Union has protected most of these names in its major export markets. However, the U.S. has been very reluctant to forbid their use domestically despite the fact that many U.S. wine lovers and professionals feel the use is misleading or dishonest. This is beginning to become a problem for US domestic and foreign policy because as many US AVAs are becoming more world renowned they are seeking greater protection for their names inside and outside the US. In addition, truth-in-labeling advocates are concerned that this policy confuses consumers.

Some U.S. states have laws which restrict or prohibit the use of these names for locally produced wines.

Definition

In the U.S., semi-generics are defined by law in 27 CFR 4.24. There are two types. The first type is names that can legally refer to any grape wine whatsoever. In practice, some have become associated with a given style, which is noted.

The second type of semi-generic names have at least some restriction on what kind of wine they can be. The legal restriction is listed first, followed by the original term.

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