The New Year has arrived and you’ve made your resolution.
This is the year that you’re finally going to do it…
You’re going to start watching what you eat. You’re going to drop the extra pounds that you’ve wanted to get rid of for so long and the first step is to make sure your putting healthier stuff into your body.
So, where do you start?
You check the labels on all of the food that you buy.
In most countries, it’s a legal requirement for food manufacturers to add nutritional information to their food packaging. This tells you everything from the fat and sodium content of the food, through to how many calories you’re taking on board when you eat it.
That’s valuable information.
If you’re trying to track your calorie intake, you need to know how many calories are in the foods that you eat.
You breeze through the aisles, making sure only to pick foods that will help you to reach your calorie goals. Finally, we reach the alcohol section and the thought comes into your head…
But you’re still in healthy food shopping mode. So, you find a bottle that seems like it fits your tastes and start examining the label.
You don’t see it…
There’s no information on the label about the wine’s nutritional value. And that means you have no idea whether you can drink it or if you’re able to get away with a glass or two while you’re on your diet.
So, that brings us to a question…
Why don’t you see that information on the label?
The answer depends on where you’re buying your Italian wines!
The American Conundrum
Let’s say you’re buying your Italian wine in the United States. In fact, what we’re about to discuss here applies to any alcoholic drinks that you might purchase in the states. You will see that the label contains no nutritional information.
It all goes back to the days of prohibition.
For several years during the 1920s and early-1930s, the manufacture and sale of alcohol was banned in the United States. It’s this era that gave rise to the speakeasy and allowed various gangs to profit from the sale of stolen or illicitly manufactured hooch.
But it’s not the prohibition era itself that matters here.
It’s the decisions made after prohibition ended.
You see, most foods and drinks sold in America fall under the remit of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s this organisation that requires food items sold in the country to offer nutritional information to buyers. Furthermore, the FDA decides just how much information manufacturers need to provide.
The issue is that the FDA doesn’t oversee alcohol.
Following the prohibition era, the oversight of alcohol became the responsibility of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). And the reason for this is, perhaps unsurprisingly, money-driven. With the TTB overseeing alcohol sales in the USA, it’s able to claim higher levels of tax on said sales, thus placing more money into government coffers.
Now, it’s still possible that you may see nutritional information on alcohol products in the states. In 2013, the TTB made placing such information on labels an option for manufacturers. Distributors can provide the information if they want to but they’re not compelled to do so. This has led to some manufacturers using the information as a marketing tool, such as those who might claim to offer low-calorie alcoholic drinks. But for the most part, we still don’t see much nutritional information on alcohol, and by extension Italian wine, sold in the United States.
What About the EU and Britain?
When buying alcohol in the EU, you may find yourself wondering why you don’t often see nutritional information on labels.
Of course, prohibition was never a thing in Europe, at least in modern times, so we can’t look to the bureaucracy that we see in the states.
So, what’s the reason?
It’s simpler than you might think, particularly in the case of Italian wines. The EU doesn’t mandate that alcoholic drinks maintain an ingredients list simply because so few ingredients go into the making of the drinks. In the case of wine, you’d have grapes and perhaps a mention of yeast. But that’s all and the information would be the same across all labels.
Simply put, the EU seems to believe that such information doesn’t serve a point so it’s not needed.
What is needed is information about alcohol volume, which is a much more pressing concern.
But now we come to the question of Britain.
Up until now, the Brits followed the EU’s guidance on alcohol labelling. But with Brexit finally official, it’s possible that we may see some changes in that country. Perhaps unlikely, but certainly possible.
The Final Word
So, the simple answer to why many bottles of Italian wine don’t contain nutritional information is that the organisations that oversee the manufacture of these alcohols don’t require said information on the labels.
But that raises another interesting question…
If the information isn’t required, why do you see it on some labels?
We believe this is a simple case of marketing. For example, if a winemaker is somehow able to make a wine with low sugars or a lower calorie content than would be typical of Italian wine, it has a selling point for its products. By adding that nutritional information to the bottle, it instantly appeals to the health conscious who might want to find a bottle that fits into their new diet, for example.
Further, any manufacturers that want to make specific claims about their wines, such as them being low-fat or organic, must provide proof of those claims somewhere. So, in these cases, you’re likely to see some nutritional information on the wine label.
So, a fairly simple answer to an oft-asked question. If you’re truly curious about the calorie content of your Italian wine, you’ll likely have to do some research online and come to your own conclusions!