?+¦-+?+¡Being averse to controversy, I avoided getting fully involved in a little twitter buzz flitting around a few weeks back. Di Procter, copy-editor and food-vino blogger, alerted followers to her detecting notes of Grenache in some local Pinot Noir she had been sampling.
I gave a courteous tweetish missive stating that this might well be the case. For the wine industry is by law allowed to add up to 15% of a grape variety other than the one stated on a single varietal wine. So while that bottle of wine might sport a dashing Cabernet Sauvignon or Riesling on the label, the content could very well contain 15% of Shiraz of Chardonnay respectively.
However, Di got me thinking about this issue again. Surely this situation is counter to what the wine fraternity is attempting to communicate about our beloved elixir’s authenticity? For here we are,?+¦-+?+¡constantly?+¦-+?+¡going on about a taste of place, integrity in all aspects of production and varietal character, yet by law wines passing themselves off as being produced from one grape may have been adulterated through the adding of a good whack of essentially foreign juice. And the industry condones this.
Yes, this is permitted in other countries, as is the eating of dogs and tying kids to machines producing tennis shoes. And the current situation appears to be far better than a few decades back when a South African producer was allowed to add 50% of another grape variety without declaring it on the label.
But the bastardisation of single varietal labelled wine by 15% has no place in these current times when consumer rights are getting the recognition they deserve. What is a restaurant patron going to do when told that 15% of his or her crayfish cocktail consists of hake or yellowtail? Or you find out your tub of duck liver p?+¦-ú??t+¬ contains a whack of ostrich? An engaging hissy-fit may lead to lodging a complaint to the consumer watchdogs, whose eyes are going beadier by the day.
So why should the industry expect consumers to pay over R100 for some wine labelled Shiraz while a good whack of the wine is not Shiraz but Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet or Petit Verdot to name a few possibilities? Especially when the leniency is not printed on the label.
With a few changes to be rung in over the next few months, the Wine and Spirits Board could do worse than to look into this situation. As quite frankly, the permissiveness is nothing short of misleading to the consumer who has the right to know if the content of a bottle is not what it claims to be.
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